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Was Eric Trump the mastermind behind Jan 6 Capitol riots? Burner phone records hold key

President Donald Trump's son Eric took to Twitter on November 24 to retweet a post from the Palmer Report, writing, 'Well here is one outlet I can sue for defamation. This will be fun.'
Organizers of January 6 Capitol riot alleged talked to Eric Trump on burner phones (Scott Olson/Getty Images, Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
Organizers of January 6 Capitol riot alleged talked to Eric Trump on burner phones (Scott Olson/Getty Images, Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Eric Trump is threatening to "sue for defamation" after a report said that organizers of the January 6 Capitol riot used "burner phones" to communicate with him and other people from his father's team. 

President Donald Trump's son took to Twitter on Wednesday, November 24, to retweet a post from the Palmer Report, writing, "Well here is one outlet I can sue for defamation. This will be fun. I'm an incredibly honest, clean guy - unlike Hunter (Biden), no drugs, healthy lifestyle, not the 'burner phone' type… Tweet saved." However, the story was actually first reported by Rolling Stone.



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What did the report say?

Rolling Stone reported Tuesday night, November 23, that Kylie Kremer, a top official in the group that had a hand in planning the January 6 rally, ordered aides to purchase three burner phones with cash just one week before the riot went down. "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," Rolling Stone reported.

Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

The sources added some of the most crucial planning 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.

A number of people reacted to Eric Trump's tweet, most of them mocking him. "Clean and honest? How many clean and honest people are banned from being on a charitable foundation board?" one of them said, while another noted, "You can't sue them for that. Whether you used criminal phones or not if he calls you a liar you'll have to explain what phones you were using. Not that you can sue him regardless, you don't understand the law. If you did you'd realize you were in big trouble." A third quipped, "You could have used your tweet to deny that you had a burner phone. Why didn’t you?" One more remarked, "Still on the Hunter thing, Eric? Must be so sad to be so jealous of a man whose father truly loves him." A commenter tweeted, "Looking forward to seeing them get a taste of their own venem!!!"






Can burner phones be traced?

For those who are unaware, burner phones are basically cheap, prepaid cellphones designed for temporary usage. It is popular for those who want to mask their identity because they don't require users to have an account. This makes them hard to trace particularly if they are purchased with cash. As a result, the use of burner phones could make it more difficult for congressional investigators to find evidence, if any, of coordination between Trump’s team and rally planners.

However, while difficult, a burner phone number can be traced. All mobile phones (including prepaid ones) and burner apps go through a cellular carrier or virtual number operator which backs up call logs, data usage, approximate location, and text messages. Law enforcement can compel companies to provide this information. Cellphone subscribers don't realize that even with non-pseudonymous information, their identities can be revealed when it comes to a disposable virtual phone number. Whether it’s through a data breach or the provider’s marketing/advertising decisions, users give up rights to the data collected on them when they activate any service. Even making a voice call can lend a clear enough sample for voice-matching software to recognize the user. It’s also possible to establish your identity by tracing other phones that move between cellular towers simultaneously.