The committee interviewed Trump’s presidential diarist roughly two weeks ago. That interview has not been previously reported, nor has the testimony describing a noticeable drop-off in information provided by Oval Office staff leading up to January 6.
Other witnesses also have told the panel there was significantly less information being shared with those involved in White House record-keeping during the same time period, according to three sources familiar with the investigation.
One source described how White House record-keepers appeared to be “iced out” in the days leading up to January 6.
“The last day that normal information was sent was the 4th,” said another source familiar with the investigation. “So, starting the 5th, the diarist didn’t receive the annotated calls and notes. This was a dramatic departure. That is all out of the ordinary.”
The White House diarist normally receives many streams of information, including the phone logs from the switchboard, the president’s movements from the US Secret Service and, critically, the notes from Oval Office operations, which detail calls, guests and activities.
But sources close to the panel’s investigation do not seem to know yet who, if anyone, directed a change in record-keeping or what the motivation behind that change was, raising questions about whether the lack of information was intentional or for staffing issues.
“It’s tough to know what that change was. Was it intentional?” one source said. “You can only keep track of something when you know what’s going on. When people don’t share things with you, whether that was intentional and who decided that, I think it’s a little murky at this point.”
The House committee declined to comment.
CNN reached out to a spokesman for Trump and did not hear back. CNN has also reached out to the National Archives for comment.
While the select committee does not have detailed notes about the comings and goings into the Oval Office on January 6, they have received testimony that has helped fill in some of the gaps, according to a source familiar with the investigation. That includes calls Trump made and received, as well as who was with him in the private dining room off the Oval Office as he reportedly watched the riot unfold on television.
The presidential diary that was generated for January 6 contains scant details. It lists information from the switchboard call logs and Trump’s public schedule but little else besides a phone call the former President had with an “unidentified individual” at 11:17 a.m. And there are no entries in the diary for roughly three hours, from 1:21 p.m. to 4:03 p.m.
The Presidential Records Act outlines that the office of the presidency has an obligation to adequately document activities of the president. But there is little to no enforcement mechanism to ensure the law is followed. While there are criminal consequences for the destruction of government records, there are none that penalize the failure to create them in the first place.
No explanation has been given so far as to why calls known to have been made in the hours Trump was in the Oval Office are not documented in the presidential diary. But around that time, a number of factors could have reduced the flow of information into the official record.
For one, sources told CNN that early January was a chaotic time inside the White House and that Trump was spending more time in the residence and conducting less official business.
According to one former Trump official, “all sense of normal order started to break down” and around early January, “the cracks were showing.” While some people had been looking to find other jobs, others had been confused and it became “every man for himself,” the former official added.
CNN’s Pamela Brown, Gloria Borger, Ashley Semler, Katelyn Polantz and Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.
Quoted from Various Sources
Published for: The Bloggers Briefing