The chairman of the U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection said Tuesday he expected there will be a “serious discussion” on the panel about inviting Pat Cipollone, the Covington Catholic graduate who once was President Donald Trump’s top lawyer to be interviewed or to testify before the committee.
House Select Committee chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., spoke to reporters about Cipollone after Tuesday’s testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson, the former special assistant to Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
Hutchinson repeatedly mentioned former White House counsel Cipollone during Tuesday’s session as one of the most outspoken in Trump’s inner circle, imploring Trump on both Jan. 6 and 7 to speak out against rioters that breached the Capitol.
Hutchinson testified Tuesday that:
- Cipollone was among a group of aides and family members, including daughter Ivanka Trump, who pushed on Jan. 7, 2021 to get Trump to issue a statement condemning the Capitol attack. There was genuine concern in the White House over the 25th Amendment being invoked and removing Trump as president, which was part of how Trump was convinced to give a speech.
- Cipollone told Meadows during a discussion of chants of “hang Mike Pence” during the Capitol attack that “We need to do something.” According to Hutchinson, her boss told Cipollone: “ ‘He thinks Mike deserves that. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.’ To which Pat said something to the effect of, ‘This is f—ing crazy.’ “
- The White House counsel came “barrelling toward” the chief of staff’s office after the rioters had entered the Capitol. “He doesn’t want to do anything, Pat,” Hutchinson recalled Meadows saying. Hutchinson said Cipollone responded, “Mark, something needs to be done. People are going to die and the blood is going to be on your f—ing hands. This is out of control. I’m going down there (to the president’s office).”
- On Jan. 3, Cipollone voiced concerns repeatedly about Trump’s plan to march to the Capitol on Jan. 6 as being potentially illegal. “Please make sure we don’t go up to the Capitol, Cassidy,” Hutchinson quoted Cipollone as telling her the morning of Jan. 6. “Keep in touch with me. We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.” Trump never walked to the Capitol on Jan. 6, although the president said he would during his speech on the Ellipse that morning. Cipollone warned Hutchinson on Jan. 3 that Trump could be charged with obstructing justice or defrauding the count of Electoral College ballots if he did that. Cipollone also feared that Trump could face charges for inciting a riot.
The former president issued a number of statements during the hearing attacking Hutchinson.
“I hardly know who this person, Cassidy Hutchinson, is, other than I heard very negative things about her,” Trump said in a post on the Truth Social website.
During her testimony, Hutchinson said that, as a staff member, she was disappointed at a Trump tweet on Jan. 6 attacking Pence, even as he was under threat of death by rioters. Outside of her job, Hutchinson said she had a different reaction.
“As an American, I was disgusted,” Hutchinson said. “It was unpatriotic. It was un-American.” She said Pence and the Capitol were under attack over a Trump lie about election fraud.
Cipollone, 56, who graduated from CovCath in 1984, has become one of the most sought-after potential witnesses for the Jan. 6 committee. That’s due to his role as White House counsel during the final two years of Trump’s presidency.
Committee vice-chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, has indicated there is probably one powerful person standing in the way of Cipollone’s testimony.
“Our committee is certain that Donald Trump does not want Mr. Cipollone to testify here,” Cheney said June 23. “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 Jan. 6.”
Previous testimony before the committee has shown that Cipollone opposed a plan for Trump to replace the acting attorney general with Jeffrey Clark, the former Department of Justice lawyer who played a key role in Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election.
Cipollone was present in a two-and-a-half-hour meeting on Jan. 3, 2021, in the Oval Office with Trump to discuss the plan.
According to other evidence presented by the committee, Cipollone threatened to resign and reportedly called Clark’s plans to pursue unfounded voter fraud allegations a “murder-suicide pact.”
Cipollone, as the top lawyer in Trump’s administration, played a lead role in defending Trump in his first impeachment trial.
Cipollone spent much of his childhood in the Bronx borough of New York City as the son of a factory worker, according to a New York Times profile. When his father was transferred to Kentucky, Cipollone attended Covington Catholic High School.
He then moved back to New York to attend Fordham University. He has spent most of his 30-year career in Washington and Chicago. But he was a law clerk to Danny Boggs, now a senior judge on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in Cincinnati – and a jurist known for a particularly difficult quiz for prospective clerks.
After leaving the White House, Cipollone has returned to private practice, getting his name on the law firm Ellis George Cipollone O’Brien Annaguey.
The Enquirer has never been able to reach Cipollone for comment.
Compiled from reporting Tuesday by USA TODAY staff writers Chelsey Cox, Katherine Swartz, Kenneth Tran, David Jackson, Joey Garrison, Erin Mansfield and Bart Jansen; includes previous reporting by Enquirer staff writer Scott Wartman.