EXCLUSIVE: An investigation into the missing seven-and-a-half hours of presidential call logs from Jan 6 reveals a possible cover-up.
Democratic strategist Rachel Bitecofer, Intelligence analyst Eric Garland and Zev Shalev discuss Trump’s missing seven-and-a-half hours of call logs on the After Show.
There’s a good chance at some point in your life you’ve played Clue, the board game where players compete to solve a murder mystery in a mansion. Players take turns saying things like “Col. Mustard in the drawing-room with the candelabra” or “Miss Scarlet in the kitchen with the rope” until one of the players accurately identifies the fictional killer and the weapon and room used in the murder (all three are randomly selected prior to the start of the game).
Unlike most real-life crimes, players can always solve clue murders through a process of elimination. The game works because of the finite number of possibilities present in the closed world that is the mansion.
That kind of limited world rarely exists in real life unless ironically you’re one of the most powerful people in the world, in which case the combination of high recognizability and personal security would make it nearly impossible to commit a crime undetected. But that won’t stop some people from trying.
Seven-and-a-half hours: That’s the length of time the committee investigating the events of Jan 6 says is missing from the presidential telephone logs handed over to them.
Last week, Donald Trump told the Washington Post that he “didn’t remember getting very many phone calls that day. And he denied removing call logs or using burner phones.” Trump didn’t offer any other explanation for the missing seven-and-a-half hours.
The Skimm put together this chart of Trump’s presidential call log. The gray section of the bar reflects the gap in missing data.
We know from news reports that Trump made several telephone calls within those hours. Mike Pence, Senator Tommy Tuberville and house minority leader Kevin McCarthy, and another person talked to Trump, but which phone did the former president use for those calls?
Burner phone. Did Trump use a burner phone like some of the rally organizers? A scenario most people dismiss because it would prove consciousness of guilt.
Other people’s phones. Trump often uses associates’ phones to take calls, but loaning your colleagues’ phones for seven-and-a-half hours when you have several of your own at your disposal, would look suspicious to anyone.
An untracked phone in the Oval. The former president could have used an untracked phone inside his office, but it’s unclear why he would. If he was watching TV, there’s nothing he’d need to hide.
He was outside the White House. He wasn’t.
And the final possibility is a cover-up. Did someone delete seven-and-a-half hours of data from the logs? There’s no evidence to suggest anyone deleted anything from the logs and if they did for the purposes of a cover-up, it would be so obvious to be a failure from the outset.
The president is a highly surveilled person, he has very few places he can go unnoticed. All eyewitnesses say he was in the dining room off from the Oval Office watching TV but the phone calls are logged there, so the seven-and-a-half hours of missing logs suggest he was somewhere using a phone not normally tracked by the presidential call logs.
We know Trump used a phone located inside the White House. Senator Mike Lee told The Salt Lake Tribune he received calls from Trump and Rudy Giuliani, both intended for newly-elected Alabama senator Tommy Tuberville, whom Trump called on the Senate floor.
Lee recounted in text messages to Bryan Schott, a reporter for The Salt Lake Tribune:
Moments after the proceedings in the Senate were halted by the Capitol Police, my phone rang. The caller ID indicated that the call was coming from the White House. I thought it was Robert O’Brien, the president’s national security advisor, calling to update me on a question I had asked him about a security threat from Iran.
To my great surprise, it was not Robert O’Brien, but President Trump on the other end of the line. My heart started to beat a little faster as I was convinced he could only be calling to argue with me about my reading of the Twelfth Amendment and Article II, Section 1.
There was a lot of noise and commotion in the room, but I thought I heard him say, “How’s it going, Tommy?”
I said, “Mr. President, this is Mike Lee.”
“No,” he insisted, “I dialled Tommy’s number.”
“Mr. President, are you calling for Tommy Tuberville (my new colleague from Alabama)?”
Anxious to hand the phone to someone else (and not have to argue with the president about matters at hand), I asked if he’d like me to find Senator Tuberville.
He said, “Yeah, sure, that’d be great.”
I went and found Senator Tuberville, handed him my phone, and explained that the president would like to speak to him. I stood nearby for the next five or ten minutes as they spoke, not wanting to lose my phone in the middle of a crisis.
Then the Capitol Police became very nervous and ordered us to evacuate the chamber immediately. As they were forcing everyone out of the chamber, I awkwardly found myself interrupting the same telephone conversation I had just facilitated.
“Excuse me, Tommy, we have to evacuate. Can I have my phone?”
Senator Tuberville promptly ended the call and returned my phone to its rightful owner.
and returned my phone to its rightful owner.”
Thanks to Senator Lee we actually know we know Trump’s calls originated from Inside the White House.
“The former president called the phone of Republican Senator Mike Lee with a number recorded as 2 0 2 3 9 5 0 0 0 0.” According to a source quoted in the Washington Post: That number is displayed when a call originates from several White House departments.
That tells us Trump likely used a phone in the White House but not in the Oval Office to reach Senator Tuberville by dialling Senator Lee’s phone. So where was he?
Even if the official record says Trump was in the Oval, he could have moved around the White House complex unnoticed.
According to a 1996 article in US News and World Report, there’s a secret passageway that links the Oval Office to the basement of the First Family’s residence in the East Wing of the White House.
“The clandestine passage, built during Ronald Reagan’s presidency to guard the president in a terrorist attack, is certainly handy. Pressing a panel on a wall adjacent to the president’s restroom next to the Oval Office causes a secret door to slide open, leading to a staircase down to the well-lighted passageway, sources said. The tunnel comes out in a storage closet across from the president’s private elevator in the basement of the residence; there is a second exit near an office that was once the White House barbershop in the West Wing basement. The tunnel, dug in 1987 while Reagan was at Camp David or vacationing in California, was called Project ZP. Removal of the earth and concrete caused a large depression south of the Rose Garden, but reporters and staffers thought it was just a natural sinkhole. Reagan once used the tunnel to sneak Richard Nixon into a private meeting on foreign policy. Any President, sources say, could use the tunnel to move between the residence and the Oval Office,” reported the Daily News
So if the president wants to sneak out of the Oval Office, he could press a panel on the wall which opens to a passageway that takes you downstairs to the basement; a few steps away, you’re in the residence.
The White House website has since revealed the real purpose of the tunnel was to link the Oval Office to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center which is underground between the White House East Wing and the Treasury Building. The PEOC is a World War 2 area facility built as a protective measure for President Franklin D Roosevelt. Vice President Richard B. Cheney utilized it during 911.
Beginning in 2010 President Obama oversaw the construction of a new five-story underground facility designed to be a command center for POTUS and living chambers for the first family under the North lawn adjacent to the West Wing.
The new command center is designed to replace the old PEOC that had fallen into disrepair. Former First Lady Laura Bush recounted being evacuated from the WH on 911 through it, “We walked along old tile floors with pipes hanging from the ceiling and mechanical equipment. The PEOC is designed to be a command center during emergencies, with televisions, phones, and communications facilities.”
Donald Trump was evacuated to the old PEOC during the unrest outside the White House following the George Floyd murder. (Secret Service did not take him to the new secure facility Obama built as it was not complete.)
The old PEOC location just off the East Wing is physically very close to the Willard Hotel, the hotel of choice for insurrectionists like Roger Stone and Rudy Giuliani on Jan 6. “We’re looking at about not quite 80 yards from the East Wing of the White House, to the Willard Hotel where Rudy Giuliani [was] that day,” says Eric Garland.q
Hundred of Trump-connected people stayed at the Willard Hotel that weekend. Giuliani held his own post-Jan 6 meeting in one of the hotel suites. Roger Stone and other high-level guests, including dozens of Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, stayed at the Willard, yet journalists spotted none of them at the actual Jan 6 event.
It’s possible to access the old Presidential Emergency Operation Center via a secure underground tunnel from the basement of the Treasury building which is just across the street from the Willard albeit underground. The Willard itself has a tunnel underneath it that covers the entire block. There is a third tunnel that links the White House to an unmarked exit on H street. Is it possible the Willard tunnel also connects to the treasury tunnel system? We don’t know, but considering the PEOC was built as a war-time facility, a secure tunnel to a hotel where White House and treasury staffers could stay makes sense.
Regardless of whether it’s above ground or via a tunnel, an approved person could access the White House PEOC largely unnoticed. You could meet with the president, who could also move unnoticed between the Oval Office and the PEOC.
Mr. Stone was captured in this video posted by his companion Kristen Davis on Instagram on Jan 6. Davis is also known as the Manhattan Madam. She told the Daily News: “There were literally 50 of us staying at The Willard hotel. I think all the guys when things were done, just kind of hung out a bit,” Davis said.
“You can winnow down the number of people there and monitor what was happening on television that day and being, and let’s say you had some reason to be in contact with the Pentagon to make sure they didn’t launch a quick reaction force out of that building. That’s a place you can do that,” says intelligence analyst Eric Garland who took part in this investigation.
This could explain why the Pentagon held back the National Guard’s response to the insurrection until after Trump’s video announcement to protestors to go home.
If Trump were in physical contact with his main coup plotters throughout those seven-and-a-half hours, it would place him in command and control of the entire conspiracy to overthrow the election in a violent coup.
We know he was in the White House because he called Senator Mike Lee’s phone. a number in the White House, but not in the Oval Office. He may have been in the residence but we’ve had no reports he was there. That leaves two possible places: the new command center under the Oval Office but it’s unclear if it was operational on Jan 6 2020 and we somehow doubt it would have had its staffed debut for the insurrection, so the old PEOC seems the most likely location bc of its proximity and accessibility to the Willard and the Oval Office and because Trump was familiar with it.
In addition to raising the prospect of Trump being in direct contact with his coup plotters throughout the insurrection in an actual “war room”, it also raises the prospect that the former president had direct comms with the Pentagon which raises a significant national security concern.
“The real action here is not Roger Stone ginning up his buddies from the Oath Keepers,” says Garland. “The real action is that the department of defense under Trump appears to have engaged in a conspiracy to overturn elections and possibly allow the murder of elected officials.”
Garland adds: “The real problem was that we had the department of defense stand down, our nation’s actual strongest-in-the-world defense, during a crisis.”
And that could only occur under the orders of the commander-in-chief.
This episode of Narativ Live revolved around a briefing given by conservative strategist Justin Sullivan a week before the insurrection.