Former president Donald Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr reportedly set up his text messages so that they would automatically delete after 30 days before he testified before the House select committee investigating the January 6 riot.
The revelation comes as the select committee released a trove of transcripts from testimonies on Thursday. The committee conducted its interview with the president’s eldest child on 3 May 2022.
During questioning, questioners noted that it subpoenaed Mr Trump’s mobile phone company to get records and that Mr Trump had set up his phone so that text messages deleted automatically after 30 days. Mr Trump said that he set it up some time in the fall of 2021.
“I didn’t even realise that was a thing until about then,” he said. “So I put it on there.”
But Mr Trump said the select committee’s work did not influence his decision to set up his phone to automatically delete text messagres.
“No, not even a little bit,” he said.
Similarly, he said that he was not under any court or discovery order to preserve his text messages.
“I had made my phone available to all of our counsel on everything else that was outstanding prior to that, which, as you know, was rather extensive,” he said in response. “So, you know, they did everything they needed to do in compliance with all those things before I did that.”
In addition, he responded affirmatively when he said that his phone had been taken in 2021 and all the contents were copied. Mr Trump’s lawyer Alan Futerfas said that a “full picture” of the phone was taken but that Mr Trump’s legal team was able to only search a subset of that image, which he said was made for a different investigation.
“They were still pretty broad search terms, but it was for different litigation,” Mr Futerfas said.
In response, a questioner for the committee asked if efforts from the IT team to look for the full copy were ongoing.
“They are,” Mr Futerfas said. “There was some corruption that occurred between storage devices when that subset was moved between storage devices.”
Mr Trump noted that when he spoke to his father during the elder Mr Trump’s presidency, he mostly called through the White House operator. Last year, it came out that Mr Trump texted then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows as a way to communicate with his father during the riot.
“He’s got to condemn this s*** ASAP. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough,” he reportedly texted at the time.
During the interview, Mr Trump was asked why he felt it was insufficient.
“I don’t remember but I didn’t think it was enough,” Mr Trump said in response. He noted that he also messaged Mr Meadows because he likely would have been on a plane without internet and his father does not send text messages.
The committee also asked Mr Trump if he ever spoke with his father about his activities during the riot afterward.
“I don’t believe I have, no,” he said.