Jan. 6 Committee Subpoenas Pat Cipollone, Trump’s White House Counsel

WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol issued a subpoena Wednesday for the testimony of Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel to President Donald J. Trump who repeatedly fought back against extreme plans to overturn the 2020 election, after he resisted testifying publicly.

In a statement accompanying the subpoena, the leaders of the committee said they were seeking Mr. Cipollone’s deposition testimony because investigators needed to “hear from him on the record, as other former White House counsels have done in other congressional investigations.”

The committee said it was seeking information about Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and his involvement in plans to submit false slates of electors to Congress and interfere with the Justice Department.

The subpoena of a White House counsel, a rare step for a congressional committee, sent a clear signal of the aggressive tactics the panel is willing to use to try to force cooperation of even the White House’s former top lawyer, who most likely could invoke attorney-client privilege in response to many questions. But the testimony of Mr. Cipollone — who participated in key conversations on Jan. 6 and throughout Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, and is known to have doubted the legality of many of those plans — could prove consequential.

The committee has at times used the leverage a subpoena creates to force witnesses to negotiate a deal for their cooperation.

“Any concerns Mr. Cipollone has about the institutional prerogatives of the office he previously held are clearly outweighed by the need for his testimony,” Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, and Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, said in a statement.

A lawyer familiar with Mr. Cipollone’s deliberations, who was not authorized to speak for the record, said that the subpoena was needed before the former White House counsel could consider transcribed testimony before the committee, and that Mr. Cipollone would now evaluate matters of privilege as appropriate.

Photos of Mr. Cipollone and Patrick F. Philbin, who was his deputy, on screen during one of the Jan. 6 commitee’s hearings. Both men met with the panel in April, but they were not under oath.Credit…Jason Andrew for The New York Times

In April, Mr. Cipollone and Patrick F. Philbin, who was his deputy, met separately with the panel, two people familiar with the sessions said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the meetings.

At the time, the two men were not under oath, and their interviews were not transcribed. Since then, Mr. Cipollone has resisted testifying publicly, despite calls from the committee for him to do so.

“Our committee is certain that Donald Trump does not want Mr. Cipollone to testify here. But we think the American people deserve to hear from Mr. Cipollone personally,” Ms. Cheney announced from the dais at a hearing last week. “He should appear before this committee, and we are working to secure his testimony.”

At a hearing on Tuesday, the committee heard testimony from a former White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, who described Mr. Cipollone’s pivotal role during the events of Jan. 6.

“Mark, we need to do something more,” Ms. Hutchinson said she heard Mr. Cipollone tell Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, on Jan. 6 as Mr. Trump’s supporters entered the Capitol. “They’re literally calling for the vice president to be f-ing hung.”

Key Revelations From the Jan. 6 Hearings

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Making a case against Trump. The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack appears to be laying out evidence that could allow prosecutors to indict former President Donald J. Trump, though the path to a criminal trial is uncertain. Here are the main themes that have emerged so far:

An unsettling narrative. During the first hearing, the committee described in vivid detail what it characterized as an attempted coup orchestrated by the former president that culminated in the assault on the Capitol. At the heart of the gripping story were three main players: Mr. Trump, the Proud Boys and a Capitol Police officer.

Creating election lies. In its second hearing, the panel showed how Mr. Trump ignored aides and advisers as he declared victory prematurely and relentlessly pressed claims of fraud he was told were wrong. “He’s become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff,” William P. Barr, the former attorney general, said of Mr. Trump during a videotaped interview.

Pressuring Pence. Mr. Trump continued pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to go along with a plan to overturn his loss even after he was told it was illegal, according to testimony laid out by the panel during the third hearing. The committee showed how Mr. Trump’s actions led his supporters to storm the Capitol, sending Mr. Pence fleeing for his life.

Fake elector plan. The committee used its fourth hearing to detail how Mr. Trump was personally involved in a scheme to put forward fake electors. The panel also presented fresh details on how the former president leaned on state officials to invalidate his defeat, opening them up to violent threats when they refused.

Strong arming the Justice Department. During the fifth hearing, the panel explored Mr. Trump’s wide-ranging and relentless scheme to misuse the Justice Department to keep himself in power. The panel also presented evidence that at least half a dozen Republican members of Congress sought pre-emptive pardons.

Trump’s rage. Cassidy Hutchinson, ​​a former White House aide, delivered explosive testimony during the panel’s sixth hearing, saying that the president knew the crowd on Jan. 6 was armed, but wanted to loosen security. She also revealed that Mr. Trump, demanding to go to the Capitol, tried to grab his vehicle’s steering wheel from a Secret Service agent.

“You heard him, Pat,” she said Mr. Meadows responded. “He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”

Ms. Hutchinson also testified that Mr. Cipollone objected to suggestions that staff members allow Mr. Trump to join a crowd of his supporters marching to the Capitol. “We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable,” Ms. Hutchinson said Mr. Cipollone told her.

Mr. Cipollone was also present for significant moments in the buildup to the storming of the Capitol, including key conversations and meetings in which Mr. Trump discussed using the powers of his office to try to overturn the election.

Mr. Cipollone, who defended Mr. Trump during his first impeachment trial, pushed back against some of the most extreme plans the president considered. He participated in meetings with Trump allies who were pressing for the military to seize voting machines and in which Attorney General William P. Barr offered his resignation after making clear that the Justice Department had found no widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

Mr. Cipollone, who was aligned with Mr. Barr and a lawyer working in the White House named Eric Herschmann, also tried to persuade Mr. Trump to stop pursuing baseless claims of fraud. He balked at acting on a plan proposed by Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department lawyer who had wanted to distribute official letters to state legislatures falsely alerting them that the election might have been stolen and urging them to reconsider certified results.

“That letter that this guy wants to send — that letter is a murder-suicide pact,” Mr. Cipollone told Mr. Trump, according to testimony the panel has received. “It’s going to damage everyone who touches it. And we should have nothing to do with that letter. I don’t ever want to see that letter again.”

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