Jan. 6 Organizers Used Burner Phones to Communicate with White House and Trump Family
Hunter WalkerTue, November 23, 2021, 5:17 PM·6 min readIn this article:
- Eric TrumpAmerican businessman and philanthropist
- Lara TrumpAmerican television producer and campaign adviser
Some of the organizers who planned the rally that took place on the White House Ellipse on Jan. 6 allegedly used difficult-to-trace burner phones for their most “high level” communications with former President Trump’s team.
Kylie Kremer, a top official in the March for Trump group that helped plan the Ellipse rally, directed an aide to pick up three burner phones days before Jan. 6, according to three sources who were involved in the event. One of the sources, a member of the March for Trump team, says Kremer insisted the phones be purchased using cash and described this as being “of the utmost importance.”
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The three sources say Kylie Kremer took one of the phones and used it to communicate with top White House and Trump campaign officials, including Eric Trump, the president’s second-oldest son, who leads the family’s real-estate business; Lara Trump, Eric’s wife and a former senior Trump campaign consultant; Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff; and Katrina Pierson, a Trump surrogate and campaign consultant.
The member says a second phone was given to Amy Kremer, Kylie Kremer’s mother and another key rally organizer. The team member says they did not know who the third phone was purchased for.
“That was when the planning for the event on the Ellipse was happening, she needed burner phones in order to communicate with high-level people is how she put it,” the March for Trump team member tells Rolling Stone, referencing Kylie Kremer.
Kylie and Amy Kremer did not immediately respond to a request for comment on record.
According to the three sources, some of the most crucial planning conversations between top rally organizers and Trump’s inner circle took place on those burner phones. “They were planning all kinds of stuff, marches and rallies. Any conversation she had with the White House or Trump family took place on those phones,” the team member says of Kylie Kremer.
Representatives for Donald Trump and Meadows also did not respond to a request for comment. Eric Trump, Lara Trump, and Pierson did not respond to requests for comment.
Burner phones — cheap, prepaid cells designed for temporary usage — do not require users to have an account. This makes them hard to trace and ideal for those who are seeking anonymity — particularly if they are purchased with cash. The use of burner phones could make it more difficult for congressional investigators to find evidence of coordination between Trump’s team and rally planners.
The House select committee on the Jan. 6 attack has been examining what role Trump and his allies played in what the committee has described as “efforts to subvert the rule of law, overturn the results of the Nov. 3, 2020, election, or otherwise impede the peaceful transfer of power.” As part of that effort, the committee has subpoenaed documents from the Kremers, other March for Trump organizers, rally planners, and top Trump advisers, including members of his White House staff and campaign team. The committee has received “thousands of pages of records” and, according to an attorney familiar with the investigation, that includes “tons” of group-text conversations. (The committee declined to comment.) Rolling Stone reviewed group texts from the rally planners that show the Kremers claiming they worked with the White House Trump team to plan the Ellipse event.
Kylie and Amy Kremer helped lead the nationwide March for Trump bus tour, where speakers promoted false conspiracy theories about last November’s election and called for the results to be overturned. That tour culminated on Jan. 6, with the large “Save America” rally on the White House Ellipse, which took place as Trump’s loss was being certified at the U.S. Capitol. The Kremers also lead an organization called Women for America First, which obtained the permit for the Ellipse rally.
Trump spoke at the Ellipse rally on Jan. 6 and said they should “walk down Pennsylvania Avenue” to the Capitol, which is located about 1.5 miles away from the Ellipse. In his remarks, the former president told the crowd to both “fight like hell” and to “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” As the speech concluded, crowds of Trump supporters breached barricades at the Capitol complex. Some supporters proceeded to break into the building and spend hours attacking Capitol police and threatening violence against lawmakers, an attack that delayed the certification of President Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.
There was no evidence the Kremers and the other rally organizers encouraged or planned violence in the group-text messages reviewed by Rolling Stone. However, critics have argued that Trump and the leaders who encouraged thousands of his supporters to come to Washington as the vote was certified deserve some blame for the violence because of their pre-Jan. 6 rhetoric and the fiery content of the former president’s speech at the Ellipse rally.
The three sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the ongoing investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, say Kylie asked the aide to buy the three burner phones as the group passed through Palm Springs, California, about a week before the Ellipse event. Based on the group’s website, which has since been deleted, the tour began on Dec. 27, 2020, in Las Vegas before moving on to California.
There could still be some evidence of direct communications between Kylie Kremer and the White House in more traditional phone records. The team member says that there were rare exceptions in which Kylie Kremer used her regular phone to communicate with Trump officials. “She talked with Mark Meadows on her personal phone once, but mainly on the burner phone,” the team member says.
The sources who spoke to Rolling Stone about the phones also describe an incident that occurred around last Christmastime as the March for Trump bus tour kicked off in Las Vegas — just before the phones were allegedly purchased. According to the sources, the group stayed at the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas, which is co-owned and managed by the former president’s real-estate company. The team member says the group hoped to park its bus, which was emblazoned with logos, a picture of Trump, and a message declaring “PROTECT ELECTION INTEGRITY,” in front of the hotel. However, the team member says hotel management initially declined due to political sensitivities and a lack of space in front of the building.
“The hotel manager said, ‘There’s no way in hell you can have that here unless you can have a member of the Trump family on the phone,’ ” the team member recalls.
Photos reviewed by Rolling Stone showed the bus parked prominently in front of the hotel’s main entrance. According to the team member, it was able to park because of calls from the Kremers to the Trump family.
“Amy and Kylie,” the team member says, “got Eric and Lara on the phone right away.”