Trump call log gap could be investigated for criminal misconduct

‘All of this raises a question of whether someone tampered with the call logs’

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Tuesday 19 April 2022 17:27 BST
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The seven hour and 37 minute gap in White House call records from the day of the worst attack on the Capitol since 1814 may have resulted from “purposeful conduct to conceal evidence” and necessitates investigation by the Justice Department, National Security Archive director Thomas Blanton and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington president Noah Bookbinder said on Tuesday in a letter urging Attorney General Merrick Garland to take action against former president Donald Trump.

Mr Blanton and Mr Bookbinder previously called on Mr Garland to investigate whether Mr Trump violated federal laws which make it a crime to “willfully injure[] or commit[] any depredation” against United States property in excess of $1,000 or to willfully destroy or mutilate federal records, based on what they described as a “pattern of conduct” by the former president that they say violated his obligations under the Presidential Records Act, a post-Watergate law which requires all White House records to be preserved by the National Archives and Records Administration.

But Mr Blanton and Mr Bookbinder now say the “significant gap” in White House records, which was discovered by investigators with the House select committee investigating the 6 January insurrection, raises the possibility that Mr Trump or someone working at his direction “willfully destroyed” the White House call logs “to cover up evidence of criminal misconduct”.

They note that widely documented calls from Mr Trump to Senator Tommy Tuberville and then-senator David Perdue are not shown in the White House logs, as well as a call from Mr Trump to then-senator Kelly Loeffler, all of which took place while a horde of Mr Trump’s supporters was assaulting Capitol Police officers and disrupting a joint session of Congress in hopes of stopping certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral college victory.

“President Trump was clearly following the events of January 6 very closely, yet the call logs reflect no calls by him whatsoever. All of this raises a question of whether someone tampered with the call logs,” they wrote.

While they also noted that “some reporting” has indicated the haphazard recordkeeping on 6 January 2021 was consistent with Mr Trump’s habit of using other people’s phones to bypass the White House switchboard, they said the “validity” of such “proffered explanations” is “open to question” without knowing the identifies of the ex-Trump White House officials who offered them.

“Moreover, none of their explanations address the absence from the call logs of calls President Trump is known to have made, why the hours in the call log preceding and following the gap appear to be relatively complete, and the pagination, which ends with a call at 11:06 a.m. and appears to resume with a call at 6:54 p.m. at the top of another page,” they said, adding that it is “imperative” that the Justice Department investigate the missing call logs “to determine whether it resulted from efforts to obstruct both the congressional investigation and any criminal investigation the Department has undertaken or is contemplating related to the January 6th insurrection”.

“The public must have confidence that all individuals—including former President Trump—will be thoroughly and fairly investigated and be held accountable if they engaged in criminal misconduct to attack the heart of our democracy,” they said.

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