BOSTON (CBS) - The report by CBS News and the Washington Post that there's a more than seven-and-a-half hour gap in the official White House records of then-President Donald Trump's phone calls during the January 6, 2021 siege of the Capitol is raising all sorts of questions about the ability of the House Select Committee probing the riot to assemble a complete set of facts.
In our interview Tuesday with CBS Chief Elections Correspondent Robert Costa, who co-authored the story with Bob Woodward, he said "we don't have a complete picture in part because our reporting shows members of President Trump's circle and maybe even the president himself were sometimes using phones that weren't government phones, and because of that they're not necessarily recorded as part of the official record."
Those might be so-called "burner phones" used by people who want no record of their calls. Trump issued a statement claiming he has "no idea" what a burner phone is. But Costa reports that "former National Security Advisor John Bolton says on the record that's not credible, that in his memory, Trump used the phrase 'burner phones' and understood its meaning in several private conversations."
Meanwhile, the House Committee has been increasingly vocal about their frustration over the stonewalling they see going on, including a string of top Trump aides who they've referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution for ignoring committee subpoenas. "They are obligated to comply with our investigation," says Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson. "They have refused to do so and that's a crime."
But Attorney General Merrick Garland has only indicted one of those referrals, former Trump advisor Steve Bannon. Is he foot dragging, and if so, why?
"They're being told by their own allies and sometimes by people inside the DOJ to be patient, DOJ investigations have a different rhythm, and take more time than congressional investigations," reports Costa. Meanwhile, those suspected of involvement "are trying to run out the clock, legally speaking, in terms of their strategy, because they do believe if Republicans take over the House this committee will be disbanded," says Costa.
So where does all this go from here? Possibly, nowhere. Televised hearings planned for this year could land with a thud if key players refuse to testify, and without aggressive prosecutions of those who are refusing, the pressure to do so could be diluted, to say the least.
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