Select committee chair Bennie Thompson and vice-chair Liz Cheney say they have been ‘left with no choice’ but to compel Mr Cipollone to give evidence
The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol has issued a subpoena commanding former Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to give evidence in a deposition set for 6 July.
Mr Cipollone, who served as former president Donald Trump’s top White House lawyer from 2019 to the end of his term in 2021, met with committee investigators for an informal interview on 13 April, but has heretofore refused repeated requests for him to sit for a deposition or give evidence in a public hearing.
In a statement, select committee chairman Bennie Thompson and vice-chair Liz Cheney said the panel’s year-long probe has surfaced evidence showing that Mr Cipollone “repeatedly raised legal and other concerns” about Mr Trump’s actions before and during the attack on the Capitol by a mob of his supporters.
“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,” they wrote.
Mr Thompson and Ms Cheney added that “any concerns Mr Cipollone has about the institutional prerogatives of the office he previously held” — a reference to potential claims that his testimony is precluded by executive privilege — “are clearly outweighed by the need for his testimony”.
In a letter to Mr Cipollione, Mr Thompson and Ms Cheney said the committee’s investigation “has revealed credible evidence” that the former White House lawyer has information concerning matters “within the scope of the select committee’s inquiry,” such as “former PresidentTrump’s awareness of and involvement in activities undertaken to subvert the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, including the submission of fake electoral ballots to Congress … the attempted appointment of Jeffrey Clark as acting Attorney General, and efforts to interfere with the Congressional certification of the electoral results”.
“The Select Committee has continued to obtain evidence about which you are uniquely positioned to testify; unfortunately, however, you have declined to cooperate with us further, including by providing on-the-record testimony. We are left with no choice but to issue this subpoena,” they added.
The panel’s decision to compel Mr Cipollone’s testimony comes just over a day after a former Trump White House aide delivered bombshell testimony alleging that he was one of the aides who heard Mr Trump speak approvingly of rioters who had stormed the Capitol while calling for then-vice president Mike Pence to be hanged for his refusal to go along with the president’s efforts to illegally overturn his 2020 election defeat to Joe Biden.
Ms Hutchinson recalled seeing Mr Cipollone, the top White House lawyer who had warned Mr Trump against traveling to the Capitol, “barreling down the hallway” to Mr Meadows’ office, opening the door, and telling the White House chief of staff that the two of them needed to see the president because rioters had breached the Capitol’s defences.
“Mark looked up and said: ‘[Mr Trump] doesn‘t want to do anything,’” she said.
In a separate videotaped deposition excerpt, she told investigators that Mr Cipollone returned a short time later accompanied by a deputy, Eric Herschmann.
“I remember Pat saying something to the effect of ‘Mark, we need to do something more. They’re literally calling for the vice president to be [f***ing] hung,’” she recalled.
She said Mr Meadows replied by telling the two attorneys that Mr Trump said, “Mike deserves it”, and added that Mr Trump did not think the rioters were doing anything wrong.