Trump’s White House counsel ‘did not contradict’ testimony of previous Jan 6 witnesses

Crucial testimony comes ahead of two more public hearings this week

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Saturday 09 July 2022 20:22 BST
Zoe Lofgren: Pat Cipollone Jan 6 committee testimony did not contradict previous witnesses

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Louise Thomas

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Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone “did not contradict” the testimony of previous witnesses as he appeared before the January 6 committee on Friday.

The grueling day-long private session produced new information to be divulged in future public hearings, according to one of the lawmakers present.

“He did not contradict the testimony of other witnesses,” California Democrat Zoe Lofgren told Wolf Blitzer on CNN.

Rep Lofgren, a committee member, clarified that “not contradicting is not the same as confirming.” In some cases the former White House lawyer was not present for the events described or “couldn’t recall with precision” some details, she said.

“He was candid with the committee, he was careful in his answers,” said Ms Lofgren. “And I think we did learn a few things, which we will be rolling out in the hearings to come.“

Mr Cipollone was a highly sought-after witness, especially after bombshell testimony that he tried to prevent Donald Trump from challenging the 2020 election results and worked to stop the defeated president from joining the violent mob that laid siege to the Capitol.

Two more of the committee’s hearings are scheduled for this upcoming week, on Tuesday 12 July at 10am, and on Thursday, potentially during primetime, though this has not yet been confirmed.

The focus of Tuesday’s hearing is former President Trump and his allies’ role in luring thousands of Mr Trump’s supporters to the nation’s capital for the day of the riot itself, members revealed in interviews last weekend.

Congressman Adam Schiff, another member of the committee, confirmed the scope of the next hearing during an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation.

“Our very next hearing will be focused on the efforts to assemble that mob” which attacked Congress after Donald Trump’s speech on the Ellipse concluded the day of January 6, Mr Schiff said.

The identities of potential witnesses for Tuesday’s hearings have yet to be made public.

Mr Cipollone’s central role came into focus during a surprise committee hearing last week when former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson described his repeated efforts to stop then-President Trump from joining the mob at the Capitol.

In a stunning public hearing, Ms Hutchinson testified that Mr Cipollone warned her that Mr Trump would be charged with “every crime imaginable” if the defeated president went to the Capitol on 6 January 2021, trying to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election.

It has been reported that the committee did not specifically ask Mr Cipollone about this comment during Friday’s meeting, though this has not been confirmed.

Ms Hutchinson testified that Mr Cipollone urged her to persuade her boss, chief of staff Mark Meadows, not to let the president go to the Capitol.

She also said that she was told Mr Trump was irate when he was ultimately prevented by his security team from going to the Capitol that day. The Secret Service has disputed parts of her account detailing Trump’s actions when she said he lashed out at the driver in the presidential motorcade, but multiple reports seem to confirm it.

At another key juncture, Mr Cipollone was also part of a meeting on the Sunday before January 6 when Justice Department officials at the White House threatened to resign if Mr Trump went ahead with plans to install a new acting attorney general who would pursue his false claims of voter fraud.

During that meeting, Mr Cipollone referred to a letter that Jeffrey Clark, the attorney President Trump wanted to install as head of the Justice Department, had proposed sending to Georgia and other battleground states challenging their election results as a “murder-suicide pact,” according to previous testimony before the panel.

Mr Cipollone and his lawyer, Michael Purpura, who also worked at the Trump White House, did not respond to requests for comment.

Once a staunch presidential confidant who had defended Trump during his first impeachment trial, Mr Cipollone had been reluctant to appear formally for an on-the-record interview. Like other former White House officials, it is possible he claimed his counsel to the Republican president as privileged information he was unwilling to share with the committee.

However, Mr Cipollone appeared for some eight hours before the panel and its investigators on Friday. Though he was subpoenaed for his testimony, Rep Lofgren said he appeared voluntarily.

“A grueling day,” she said. “But it was well worth it.”

Earlier this week, Trump responded to news of Cipollone’s cooperation on his social media platform, Truth Social, calling it bad for the country.

“Why would a future President of the United States want to have candid and important conversations with his White House counsel if he thought there was even a small chance that this person, essentially acting as a ‘lawyer’ for the Country, may someday be brought before a partisan and openly hostile Committee in Congress,” the former president said.

The panel said Mr Cipollone is “uniquely positioned to testify” in a letter accompanying the subpoena issued last week.

“Mr Cipollone repeatedly raised legal and other concerns about President Trump’s activities on January 6th and in the days that preceded,” Chairman Bennie Thompson, said in a statement. “While the Select Committee appreciates Mr Cipollone’s earlier informal engagement with our investigation, the committee needs to hear from him on the record, as other former White House counsels have done in other congressional investigations.”

Reporting by The Associated Press

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