Trump White House lawyer Cipollone to testify before 1/6 panel |
WASHINGTON (AP) — Pat Cipollone, Donald Trump’s former White House attorney, is scheduled to testify Friday before the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the United States Capitolaccording to someone knowledgeable about it.
Cipollone, whose reported resistance to Trump’s plans to reverse his 2020 election defeat made him a long-sought and potentially revealing witness, was subpoenaed by the select committee last week after weeks of public pressure to testify before the panel.
The person briefed on the matter, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss private negotiations, said Cipollone had agreed to appear before the committee for a transcribed private interview.
As Trump’s top White House lawyer, Cipollone was in the West Wing on Jan. 6, 2021, as well as for key meetings in the turbulent post-election weeks when Trump and his associates — including Republican lawmakers and attorney Rudy Giuliani – debated and plotted. to contest the election.
Agreement for Cipollone to speak to panel follows last week’s dramatic testimony from Trump’s former White House aide Cassidy Hutchison. The young assistant to former chief of staff Mark Meadows provided the committee with a gripping account of what she saw and heard during those weeks and presented lawmakers with arguably their clearest argument about how Trump or some of his allies might face criminal liability.
Cipollone reportedly warned Trump and his allies vehemently and repeatedly against their efforts to contest the election, threatening to resign as Trump considered a dramatic shake-up at the top of the Justice Department.
A witness said Cipollone called a proposed letter making false allegations of voter fraud a “murder-suicide pact.”
But while his interview with the committee could prove to be a breakthrough, it was unclear if Cipollone would try to limit what he is willing to talk about. As the administration’s chief counsel, he could argue that some or all of his conversations with Trump are privileged.
Nonetheless, the nine-member panel believes he is a crucial witness who can provide them with an even closer, first-hand recollection of the diverse and varied efforts of Trump’s allies to overthrow the Electoral College, including a strategy for organizing so-called voting proxies for Trump in seven swing states that Biden has won. Lawmakers also said Cipollone’s name appeared in a number of private depositions as a voice of reason against efforts to appoint a loyalist to the post of attorney general who championed false theories about voter fraud and a plan to march Trump on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 alongside his supporters.
Hutchinson testified last week that days before the attack on the Capitol, Cipollone had warned that there were “serious legal issues” if Trump accompanied protesters to the Capitol, saying, “We need to make sure this doesn’t happen. not produce”. On the morning of Jan. 6, Cipollone urged Hutchinson to “stay in touch” on any possible moves by the president and “please make sure we’re not going to the Capitol, Cassidy.”
If Trump went to the Capitol, Hutchinson recalled Cipollone saying, “We’re going to be charged with every crime imaginable.” He had previously identified obstruction of justice or vote count fraud among the possibilities, she said.
As Cipollone sat down for an informal interview in April, the committee reiterated that he needed his cooperation on the case after obtaining evidence on which he was “particularly well placed to testify”.
“Our evidence shows that Pat Cipollone and his office tried to do the right thing,” Rep. Liz Cheney, the committee’s Republican vice chair, said during a hearing last month. “They tried to stop a number of President Trump’s plans for January 6.”
“We believe the American people deserve to hear from Mr. Cipollone personally,” she added.
Associated Press writer Nomaan Merchant contributed to this report.
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