The House select committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol building is reportedly in talks with Pat Cipollone, a former White House counsel who advised former President Donald Trump up to and following the events of January 6, 2021.
According to ABC News, which cited sources with inside knowledge of the discussions, the talks include the possibility of having Cipollone appear before the January 6 committee during its public hearings this month. Cipollone had previously met with the committee in April, but an appearance this month could give the public a greater understanding of the Trump administration’s response to the attack, as well as the former president’s attempt to overthrow the election using the power of the executive branch.
“Cipollone is a key figure in Trump’s intent and state of mind after the election and before January 6,” MSNBC legal contributor Katie Phang said on Twitter.
Don’t miss a beat
Get the latest news and thought-provoking analysis from Truthout.
It’s still unclear whether Cipollone will testify, as there are numerous questions regarding Trump’s executive privilege claims and what Cipollone, as his White House counsel, can divulge. Indeed, Cipollone has already told investigators that if does appear before the committee, his testimony would be limited to discussing attempts by Trump and his allies to use the Department of Justice (DOJ) to promulgate false claims of election fraud.
Cipollone was in the West Wing during the attack on the Capitol building, which began directly after Trump delivered an incendiary speech to a crowd of his loyalists outside the White House. Following the attack, Cipollone advised Trump that he could face civil penalties for the speech he had just delivered.
The former White House counsel also stood against Trump when he suggested that he might preemptively pardon himself, along with his then-chief of staff Mark Meadows and Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer at the time. In response, Cipollone told Trump that such pardons would amount to obstruction of justice and that he would resign in protest if he attempted to implement them, which ultimately resulted in Trump backing down.
This wasn’t the only one of Trump’s schemes that Cipollone shut down during the final weeks of the former president’s tenure. In a January 3 meeting at the White House, Trump hinted at plans to replace then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with DOJ official Jeffrey Clark; at the time, Rosen was refusing to involve the DOJ in investigations that were based on Trump’s unfounded election fraud claims, while Clark was pushing for Trump to order the department to get involved. During that meeting, Cipollone told Trump that if he replaced Rosen with Clark, he’d resign in protest with great fanfare. Trump again backed down.