The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The people to whom Trump talked on the day of the Capitol riot

President Donald Trump on Aug. 27, 2018, at the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
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This article has been updated.

As president, Donald Trump spent a remarkable amount of time on the phone. He called legislators, he called reporters. He called friends, he called supporters. His conversations triggered concerns about the security of his wireless devices and numerous reports about newsworthy statements offered to random Americans.

But it’s Trump’s calls on one particular day — Jan. 6, 2021, the day of the riot at the U.S. Capitol — that are of the most interest at the moment. As The Washington Post reported Tuesday, call logs obtained by the House select committee investigating the day’s violence track Trump’s conversations that morning, before he spoke at a rally near the White House, and in the evening after the worst of the violence occurred. The hours between, though, are empty — despite reported conversations between Trump and others.

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What the logs do reveal, though, is itself illuminating: whom Trump spoke with, who is omitted from the logs and who is not shown to have returned his outreach.

Below, listed in alphabetical order, are those Trump tried to speak with or spoke with on Jan. 6. While many of the names might not be immediately familiar, we’ve included information about who they are and the likely reason that Trump reached out.

The calls we know about

Stephen K. Bannon, former adviser and podcast host. (Logged calls: 8:37 a.m. for about two minutes; 10:19 p.m. for about eight minutes)

Bannon is a familiar name, having been part of Trump’s campaign team in 2016 and, briefly, his administration. By Jan. 6, Bannon had transitioned back into the media world, hosting a podcast in which he hyped pro-Trump positions and rhetoric. On Jan. 5, for example, his podcast focused on the events that would unfold the following day as Congress convened to count electoral votes in the Capitol.

“Tomorrow it’s game day,” Bannon said. “So strap in. Let’s get ready.”

On Jan. 6 itself, Bannon was seen at the Willard Hotel, where Trump’s closest advisers were gathering to try to pressure members of Congress to reject the cast electoral college votes.

William Bennett, former Cabinet official; conservative pundit. (10:45 a.m., two minutes)

Speaking to CBS News’s Robert Costa, who helped break the story about the phone logs, Bennett said he didn’t “recall” his conversation with Trump. It’s not clear why Bennett would have been contacted. Bennett served as education secretary in Ronald Reagan’s second term in office and has written extensively through a conservative political lens.

Pat Cipollone, White House counsel. (7:01 p.m., seven minutes)

Trump’s conversation with his lead government counsel was the first one indicated in the evening hours logged in the newly obtained documents. It’s not the first attempted call, though; Trump reached out to Dan Scavino (see below) before speaking with Cipollone.

The conversation occurred shortly before Trump’s Twitter account published a second video addressing the events of the day. The first such video, released hours earlier, was criticized for the generous tone it used in describing the rioters.

Rudy Giuliani, attorney. (8:42 a.m., four minutes; 9:41 a.m., seven minutes)

Giuliani is probably the best-known of Trump’s legal team and played a key role in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 riot. There are only two recorded calls between Giuliani and Trump, which may be in part because Giuliani was at the rally on the morning of Jan. 6, where he would have seen the president face-to-face.

As the riot unfolded, Giuliani was at the Willard Hotel. He left at least one message for a senator, Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), asking that the final count of electoral college votes be delayed.

Bill Hagerty, senator from Tennessee. (White House called)

Trump had the White House switchboard contact Hagerty, his former ambassador to Japan, but no response is recorded. Hagerty was first elected the prior November.

Sean Hannity, Fox News host. (11:08 p.m., nine minutes)

As the riot was underway, Hannity (like many others close to Trump) encouraged the White House to more aggressively renounce the violence. His text messages to Trump staffers have been obtained by the House select committee and made public, revealing a divergence between his private exhortations and his on-air commentary that night. Hannity and Trump often spoke on the phone; in this case, it was well after Hannity’s program aired.

Josh Hawley, senator from Missouri. (White House called; called Trump without recorded call back)

Hawley was the first Republican senator to announce his intent to object to the submitted electoral college votes on Jan. 6 — an objection he maintained even after the riot. The White House contacted him in the morning, and the call logs record that he had tried to reach Trump by the early evening, but no conversation is logged.

Eric Herschmann, lawyer and White House adviser. (10:50 p.m., six minutes)

Herschmann was a member of Trump’s legal team during his first, Ukraine-related impeachment trial in 2020. He stayed at the White House, popping up later in the year as part of an effort to spread negative stories about Joe Biden’s son Hunter. It’s not clear why he spoke with Trump on Jan. 6.

Jim Jordan, representative from Ohio’s 4th Congressional District. (9:24 a.m., 11 minutes)

For months, Jordan faced questions about his contacts with Trump on Jan. 6. In August, he acknowledged that he and the president had spoken more than once on that day. He told Politico at the time that he believed one of the calls occurred after legislators had been moved to a secure location during the riot — meaning that he spoke with Trump during the window for which no call logs exist.

Kelly Loeffler, senator from Georgia. (11:17 a.m., three minutes)

The newly obtained documents refer nebulously to a conversation that took place with an “unknown” person at 11:17 a.m. Politico’s Kyle Cheney noted that a previously released document showed a call with Loeffler at that time. She had lost her reelection bid the day prior. Originally part of the group who planned to object to the electoral-vote results, she changed her mind after the riot.

Nick Luna, Trump’s personal assistant. (10:32 a.m., two minutes)

Trump’s quick call with his assistant is one of the last recorded on the morning of Jan. 6, shortly before he went out to speak to the audience outside the White House.

Mark Martin, former North Carolina Supreme Court justice. (7:30 p.m., 10 minutes)

As the weeks passed after the 2020 election, Trump increasingly emphasized a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) that sought to force the Supreme Court to reject the vote results in a number of states Trump lost. Calling it a long shot is overly generous; it was a mishmash of spurious claims and dubious legal arguments. Martin was part of the team that helped develop that suit.

Martin was also reportedly one of those advocating that Vice President Mike Pence simply reject cast electoral college votes on Jan. 6. That Trump spoke with Martin that evening may reflect Trump’s ongoing hope that members of Congress could be persuaded to block the finalization of the electoral college vote even after the Capitol had been cleared. This was the plan all along, after all: get Congress to throw up roadblocks and, potentially, have the House or the Supreme Court adjudicate a new winner.

Kevin McCarthy, House majority leader. (Reported; not in log)

McCarthy is known to have spoken with Trump on the day of the riot, after legislators had been evacuated. In January, he told reporters that the conversation “was very short, that he was advising the president what was happening” in the building. To Republicans at the time, though, he offered more detail.

“I guess these people” — that is, the rioters — “are more upset about the election than you are,” Trump told the House leader, according to those with whom McCarthy shared details of the call at the time.

This call also falls into the period that isn’t captured in the White House logs.

Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader. (White House called)

Trump tried to reach McConnell on the morning of Jan. 6. An aide to McConnell told Costa on Monday that the leader “declined the call.”

Kayleigh McEnany, press secretary. (9:42 p.m., 12 minutes)

McEnany would later receive an outline from Hannity delineating how Trump should move forward on his fraud claims.

John McEntee, director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office. (11:23 p.m., 19 minutes)

One of the last recorded calls Trump made on Jan. 6 was to McEntee, the person in charge of staffing at the White House. This is intriguing, given that there were already reports about White House staffers tendering their resignations as a result of the day’s violence.

Mark Meadows, chief of staff. (9:03 a.m., five minutes; 10:11 p.m., nine minutes)

Meadows probably spent much of the day with Trump, obviating the need for regular calls. Meadows has emerged as a locus of efforts to contact Trump as the riot unfolded, in part because of that proximity and, in part, because we know more about his contacts that day, compared with those of other Trump allies and advisers.

Jason Miller, senior campaign adviser. (9:23 p.m., 19 minutes)

Miller worked on both of Trump’s presidential campaigns and would continue to serve the former president until last summer. It’s not clear what the two discussed on Jan. 6.

Stephen Miller, senior Trump adviser. (9:51 a.m., 28 minutes)

Miller was one of Trump’s primary speechwriters, so it’s likely that his lengthy call with the president on the morning of Jan. 6 centered heavily on the speech that Trump would give at the Ellipse a few hours later.

Cleta Mitchell, lawyer. (7:53 p.m., three minutes)

Trump’s robust effort to overturn the election results in the weeks after Nov. 3, 2020, included assistance from Mitchell, who elevated various dubious claims about fraud to Meadows. She was on Trump’s call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger a few days before Jan. 6, the call during which Trump tried to cajole Raffensperger into belatedly “finding” enough votes for Trump to win the state.

Mitchell was also in contact with members of Congress about her claims, which is probably why Trump spoke with her that day.

Kurt Olsen, lawyer. (8:34 a.m., three minutes; 7:17 p.m., 12 minutes)

Olsen was the attorney for Texas in its doomed lawsuit. He would later be mentioned in an unknown context as part of a document that MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell took to the White House outlining a last-ditch plan for Trump to retain power.

Olsen, Bannon, Giuliani and Meadows are the only individuals known to have spoken to Trump both before and after the period in which no calls were logged.

Mike Pence, vice president. (White House called; reported conversation not logged)

Trump tried to reach Pence at 9:02 a.m. on Jan. 6, without luck. We know that the two spoke at 11:20 a.m., shortly before Pence headed to Capitol Hill to lead the electoral vote count. That call apparently included a last-ditch attempt by Trump to cajole Pence into rejecting the vote results. It didn’t work.

David Perdue, senator from Georgia. (11:04 a.m., three minutes)

Like Loeffler, Perdue had lost his reelection bid the night before. As he campaigned to keep his job, he had expressed support for objecting to the submitted electoral college votes.

Dan Scavino, White House deputy chief of staff for communications. (7:08 p.m., eight minutes; 9:55 p.m., 16 minutes)

The first outreach on the Jan. 6 call log is from Trump to his longtime aide Scavino, the person largely in charge of Trump’s social media accounts. He tried to reach Scavino at 8:23 a.m., without luck. They spoke later, including shortly before the second video message was released. It’s likely that, like Meadows, Scavino spent much of the day in Trump’s direct company.

Tommy Tuberville, senator from Alabama. (Reported; not in log)

Tuberville, newly elected to his position, committed to objecting to the submitted electoral votes before Jan. 6 and subsequently did so. He was also the target of multiple calls on Jan. 6 itself, including one from Trump early that afternoon. (Tuberville reportedly told Trump during the call that Pence was being evacuated from the Senate chamber.)

Later, Giuliani would try to reach Tuberville to encourage the senator to drag out the vote-counting process “until the end of tomorrow” so that other legislators could be persuaded to join the effort. Unfortunately, Giuliani accidentally left that message on the voice mail of Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).


A previous version of this post incorrectly said that then-Vice President Mike Pence was evacuated from the House chamber on Jan. 6, 2021. He was evacuated from the Senate chamber. This post has been corrected.