Trump’s ex-White House counsel to appear before Jan 6 committee

Pat Cipollone internally opposed Donald Trump’s push to overturn 2020 elections, according to lawmakers and witnesses.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House
Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone has agreed to testify before the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, according to a person briefed on the matter [File: Patrick Semansky/AP]

The US congressional panel investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol building has reached a deal to interview former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, whose testimony lawmakers had been seeking for weeks, several US media outlets have reported.

Reports on Wednesday by the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN amongst others cited unidentified sources as saying that Cipollone agreed to speak to the panel behind closed doors by the end of the week. They said the interview would be videotaped but not broadcast publicly.

The panel held six public hearings in June and is set to convene publicly again on July 12.

In its previous hearings, the committee focused on former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 elections based on false voter fraud allegations, attempting to draw a link between that campaign and the Capitol riots.

The committee cannot file criminal charges, but it can make recommendations for the Department of Justice to indict suspects. Lawmakers on the committee have also said the panel wants to present the findings of its investigation to the American people, so the public can make its own judgement about the January 6 events.

Cipollone’s name has previously surfaced in testimonies and remarks by lawmakers and witnesses at the hearings – with the former White House counsel often described as a voice of reason trying to stop the push by Trump and his allies to undermine the 2020 vote.

Last week, the panel issued a subpoena to Cipollone to compel him to testify.

At a June 21 hearing, Congresswoman Liz Cheney stressed that lawmakers want Cipollone to appear before the committee.

“Our committee is certain that Donald Trump does not want Mr Cipollone to testify here,” Cheney, one of two Republicans on the panel,  said.

“Indeed, our evidence shows that Mr Cipollone and his office tried to do what was right; they tried to stop a number of President Trump’s plans for January 6.”

She added that the committee thinks “the American people deserve to hear from Mr Cipollone personally.”

And at a surprise hearing late last month, Cipollone featured prominently in the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who shared firsthand accounts from the White House.

Hutchinson said Cipollone played a leading role in warning Trump’s team against plans for the then-president to go to the Capitol on the day of the riots.

“Mr Cipollone said something to the effect of, ‘Please make sure that we don’t go up to the Capitol, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen,’” she told the committee.

Source: Al Jazeera