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January 6th: Phone Records, Text Messages, and a Court Case

Three stunning revelations this week in the ongoing investigation of January 6th.
January 6th: Phone Records, Text Messages, and a Court Case
Photo by Christopher Ryan / Unsplash

As the investigation continues into the events of January 6th, three pieces of information were revealed this week, including Trump's missing phone records, text messages from a Supreme Court justice's wife, and a judge's ruling that a crime had likely been committed.

Federal Ruling

US District judge David Carter ordered attorney and Trump ally John Eastman to turn over more than 100 emails to the House Select Committee investigating the riot, ruling it was "more likely than not" that former President Donald Trump violated the law and "corruptly attempted to obstruct" the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.

As described by Tom Dreisbach for NPR, "In the aftermath of the 2020 election, Eastman put together legal strategies and advised the Trump team on how they might overturn President Biden's electoral victory." The Jan. 6 Select Committee has sought documents and testimony from Eastman, who sued to block their release by claiming attorney-client privilege.

Trump 'likely' committed crime trying to stay in power, judge says in records dispute (Tom Dreisbach - NPR)

Excerpt from NPR: Carter described Trump and Eastman's plan as "a coup in search of a legal theory," which "spurred violent attacks on the seat of our nation's government, led to the deaths of several law enforcement officers, and deepened public distrust in our political process." Still, Carter made clear that his ruling would only directly affect these disputed documents.

This ruling was also covered by Callie Patteson for the New York Post.

Judge rules Trump ‘likely’ tried to obstruct Congress on Jan. 6 (Callie Patteson - New York Post)

Excerpt from New York Post: Carter cited the 45th president’s repeated efforts to have then-Vice President Mike Pence throw out the results in several contested states, which Pence insisted he did not have the authority to do. In his ruling, Carter ruled that the joint session at which lawmakers heard and counted the results of the 2020 Electoral College vote constituted a “‘lawful function of government’ … which Dr. Eastman does not dispute.”
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Phone Records

Meanwhile, "The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol has identified an almost 8-hour gap in official White House records of then-President Donald Trump’s phone calls as the violence unfolded and his supporters stormed the building," according to the AP.

8-hour gap in Trump’s Jan. 6 White House phone records (Mary Clark Jalonick, Colleen Long, and Jill Colvin - Associated Press)

Excerpt from AP: The committee’s effort to piece together Trump’s day as his supporters broke into the Capitol underscores the challenge that his habitual avoidance of records laws poses — not only to historians of his tumultuous four years but to the House panel, which intends to capture the full story of the former president’s attempt to overturn the election results in hearings and reports later this year.

Questions about the missing records abounded, some even suggesting that a disposable "burner phone" was used to hide the calls. According to Rebecca Falconer in Axios, Trump told news outlets, "I have no idea what a burner phone is, to the best of my knowledge I have never even heard the term." However, former National Security Advisor John Bolton disputes that assertion.

John Bolton recalls discussing burner phones with Trump (Rebecca Falconer - Axios)

Excerpt from Axios: Bolton told CBS that Trump does know what burner phones are and said that he and the former president had discussed how people used them to "avoid having their calls scrutinized" during the previous administration.
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Conspiracy Texts

Finally, text messages between President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and conservative activist Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, first obtained by The Washington Post and CBS News, were released to the public.

As Peter Wehner writes in The Atlantic, the exchanges were "extraordinary and unsettling." Texting almost 30 times in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, "their purpose was not to lament the result; it was to encourage efforts to overturn it."

A Glimpse Into a Fearful, Angry, Imaginary World (Peter Wehner - The Atlantic)

Excerpt from The Atlantic: [The texts] would be worrisome enough, but what makes it doubly so is the arguments invoked, the sources cited, and the mindset revealed in these raw, unfiltered texts. They are a window into a very distorted, very disturbed world. A world of true believers. And a world that has largely influenced and defined the American right during the Trump era.
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According to an insightful, fact-checking article from PolitiFact, "the messages included references to an imaginary financial system, an alleged sting operation involving watermarked ballots, and Guantanamo Bay military tribunals" as well as "pressed Meadows to take action on Trump’s false claims of election fraud."

A fact-checker’s guide to Ginni Thomas’ texts to Trump’s chief of staff (Bill McCarthy and Amy Sherman - PolitiFact)

Excerpt from PolitiFact: The 29 messages between Thomas and Meadows were among more than 2,000 texts Meadows turned over to the committee as part of its fact-finding mission regarding the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. What stood out to us were several messages from Thomas that repeated code language for conspiracy theories as she urged Meadows to reject the election results.