Former Trump White House lawyer Cipollone is ‘cooperative’ with January 6 committee
Trump’s former White House lawyer Pat Cipollone appeared before the House committee on Jan. 6 for an interview on Friday and agreed to take questions from the panel, a source familiar with the first part of his story said. testimony.
“He was a cooperative witness as part of his desire to protect executive privilege for the General Counsel’s office,” the source said.
Cipollone, who the panel’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., has repeatedly described as a critical witness, arrived for the recorded and transcribed closed-door interview shortly before 8:30 a.m. ET, and always met the panel at the beginning of the afternoon.
The panel subpoenaed Cipollone late last month after explosive testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson, a former assistant to President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, detailed the lawyer’s efforts to subdue Trump on January 6 and the days who preceded him.
Hutchinson said Cipollone approached her on Jan. 3, 2021, after hearing Meadows pitched the idea of going to the Capitol on Jan. 6 and told her, “Legally that would be a terrible idea for us.”
The warning was even more severe on the morning of Jan. 6, Hutchinson said. “Mr. Cipollone said something like, ‘Please make sure we don’t come up to the Capitol, Cassidy, keep in touch with me. We’re going to be charged with every crime imaginable if we make sure let this movement happen,” she testified.
Hutchinson also said he heard Cipollone pleading with Meadows to help him talk to Trump during the riot. She quoted Cipollone as telling Meadows “something to the effect of, ‘Mark, something has to be done or people are going to die and blood is going to be on your scary hands. It’s getting out of hand.’
Cipollone – who defended Trump in his first impeachment trial – had previously met with committee investigators in April for an informal interview, but had resisted Cheney’s repeated calls for a more formal meeting.
In a joint statement last week announcing the subpoena, Cheney and the committee chair’s representative, Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said “the panel’s investigation uncovered evidence that Mr. Cipollone raised repeatedly raised legal and other concerns about President Trump’s activities” around January 1. 6. “While the select committee appreciates Mr. Cipollone’s prior informal engagement in our investigation, the committee needs to hear from him formally, as other former White House attorneys have done in other investigations of the All of Mr. Cipollone’s concerns about the institutional prerogatives of the position he previously held are clearly outweighed by the need for his testimony.
In a letter to Cipollone accompanying the subpoena, Thompson said the committee was reviewing “Trump’s outreach and involvement in activities undertaken to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, including submitting false congressional and executive branch ballots, the attempted nomination of Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general, and efforts to interfere with Congressional certification of election results on January 6, 2021.” He said their investigation had shown that Cipollone had information “regarding these and other issues”.
Also on Friday, Oath Keepers chief lawyer Stewart Rhodes told NBC News that his client wanted to testify a second time before the committee, but only if certain conditions were met.
Rhodes, who has been jailed pending trial on seditious conspiracy and other charges related to the Jan. 6 riot, would testify publicly under oath, but only live with his lawyers present because he fears his remarks may have come out of their context otherwise, said attorney James Lee Bright.
It is unclear what new information Rhodes could or would provide. Rhodes previously appeared for a virtual deposition to the committee in February from prison and invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 20 to 30 times.
Bright said the offer was extended to the committee on Friday. The panel declined to comment.
Daniel Barnes and Kyle Stewart contributed.