“He took everybody’s calls,” the aide said, even interrupting national security briefings to make and receive calls.
The phone was his lifeline, according to former Trump administration officials.
The difficulty for the committee in tracking down just whom Trump spoke with — and when — is dealing with his unorthodox phone habits while in office: According to multiple sources formerly in the administration, the ex-President often used other people’s telephones (or multiple phones of his own, sometimes rotated in and out of use) to communicate with his supporters — and even family.
One former staffer blamed the former President’s habit on an aversion to anyone listening to his calls (which, in the White House, is hard for a president to avoid if he calls from a desk phone). So he would, frequently, grab the cell phone of a nearby aide or even a Secret Service agent to make calls.
Scavino, according to this source, had an official phone and a personal phone.
He has been subpoenaed by the January 6 committee and is suing Verizon because of the committee’s subpoena of his phone records. The lawsuit — still in its earliest stage — has temporarily stopped the phone company from giving logs of his calls and subscriber information to the House.
“He liked to talk to people he agreed with,” said another aide.
In addition, Trump typically would not take his own personal cell phone into the Oval Office, according to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who tried multiple times to reach him as the riot raged.
Trump never called Christie back that day, the former governor told Bash.
As a way to gauge how unprecedented Trump’s presidential behavior on the phone was — and how he ran the White House generally — a former senior White House official describes an early chaotic process with “almost no records of anything.”
“In fact,” this former official says, “no one ever thought to ever keep track of people going in and out of the Oval.”
According to another former White House official, “for large chunks, at least, and most likely for the entirety of the Trump presidency, there aren’t Oval Office visitor logs.” Keeping such logs is not mandated, but it had become the norm under previous administrations.
When Gen. John Kelly became Trump’s chief of staff in July 2017, he tried to clean up the messy phone process inside the White House — and his boss hated it, according to a former White House official. Kelly tried to keep call logs and screen Trump’s calls, but the President bristled at the restrictions, because he didn’t want Kelly to know with whom he was speaking, the former official said.
“It just didn’t happen,” the source said. There was no circumventing that.” And most calls were by appointment.
In addition, the source said, then-President Barack Obama Obama would never have been allowed to use the phone of an aide or Secret Service agent to make calls. “Heavens, no,” the source said.