Former president Donald Trump denied using any burner phones and said he did not recall receiving many calls during the January 6 Capitol riot in an interview with The Washington Post published Thursday.
The interview comes as there are many questions about a seven-hour gap in phone logs on the day of the insurrection wherein his supporters raided the Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election. He said he didn’t recall “getting very many” calls.
“From the standpoint of telephone calls, I don’t remember getting very many,” he told The Post. “Why would I care about who called me? If congressmen were calling me, what difference did it make? There was nothing secretive about it. There was no secret.”
The potential use of personal devices or burner phones is one of the aspects being investigated by the January 6 committee as it probes the events leading up to and during the attack on Congress.
Mr Trump’s team is thought to at least have shifted to personal devices during a seven-hour gap in the White House call logs from the day of the attack. He previously issued a statement denying the use of “burner phones”, or prepaid cell phones not tied to individual contracts, and also denied knowing what the term meant despite his own former advisers coming out and publicly contradicting him on that claim.
“I can’t understand what the the former president is saying because I heard him use the term burner phone a number of times,” John Bolton, Mr Trump’s former national security adviser, told CNN this week.
The ex-president sat down for an interview to The Washington Post and praised his followers who continued to push false claims about the 2020 election, including Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Ms Thomas’s work to convince White House officials to support the efforts to overturn the election have drawn intense scrutiny to the Court and her husband, but Mr Trump characterised Mr Thomas as a fine justice in his interview while indicating that he did not know about her post-election texts to Mark Meadows, his former chief of staff.
“First of all, her husband is a great justice. And she’s a fine woman. And she loves our country,” said the former president.
He also touched on his own lack of attendance at the Capitol on January 6, which many expected after he indicated that he would “march” with his supporters that day at a rally outside the White House.
According to Mr Trump, Secret Service prevented him from joining the chaos directly during the minutes leading up to the attack.
“Secret Service said I couldn’t go. I would have gone there in a minute,” he explained.
Mr Trump’s actions during the January 6 attack remain a central focus of the House committee’s investigation as it probes whether Mr Trump was part of a criminal conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election, and whether his team had any inclination that violence was likely before they drew thousands of the president’s supporters to Washingotn.
While he continues to urge non-cooperation with the January 6 panel, many witnesses called by the lawmakers including members of his own family like Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have voluntarily testified in recent weeks.