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Jan. 6 Panel Subpoenas Trump WH Counsel06/30 06:17

   The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection issued a subpoena 
Wednesday to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, whose reported 
resistance to Donald Trump's schemes to overturn his 2020 election defeat has 
made him a long-sought and potentially revelatory witness.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection 
issued a subpoena Wednesday to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, whose 
reported resistance to Donald Trump's schemes to overturn his 2020 election 
defeat has made him a long-sought and potentially revelatory witness.

   Cipollone is said to have stridently and repeatedly warned the former 
president and his allies against their efforts to challenge the election, at 
one point threatening to resign as Trump eyed a dramatic reshuffling atop the 
Justice Department. One witness said Cipollone referred to a proposed letter 
making false claims about voter fraud as a "murder-suicide pact." Another 
witness said Cipollone had warned her that Trump was at risk of committing 
"every crime imaginable."

   It's the first action from the committee since Tuesday's dramatic testimony 
from Cassidy Hutchinson, whose gripping account of what she saw and heard as an 
aide in the White House raised new questions about whether Trump or some of his 
allies could face criminal liability. As Trump's top White House lawyer, 
Cipollone was present for key meetings in the turbulent weeks after the 
election when Trump and associates -- including GOP lawmakers and lawyer Rudy 
Giuliani -- debated and plotted ways to challenge the election.

   The subpoena sets the stage for a possibly protracted legal fight between a 
Congress determined to assert its authority and a former executive branch 
employee privy to intimate and sensitive Oval Office deliberations. As White 
House counsel, effectively the administration's chief lawyer, Cipollone could 
try to argue that his conversations with the president are privileged and that 
he is therefore exempt from testifying, though such claims would likely need to 
be resolved in the courts.

   The committee pressed ahead anyway, saying Cipollone could have information 
about several efforts by Trump allies to subvert the Electoral College, from 
organizing so-called alternate electors in states Biden won to trying to 
appoint a loyalist as attorney general who championed false theories of voter 
fraud. While Cipollone has sat for an informal interview in April, the 
committee said it required his cooperation on the record after it obtained 
evidence about which he was "uniquely positioned to testify."

   Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee's Democratic chairman, and 
Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the panel's Republican vice chairwoman, suggested that 
Cipollone had resisted transcribed testimony because of concerns about 
executive privilege. In a statement announcing the subpoena, they said that 
"any concerns Mr. Cipollone has about the institutional prerogatives of the 
office he previously held are clearly outweighed by the need for his testimony."

   "We are left with no choice but to issue you this subpoena," Thompson wrote 
in a letter to Cipollone.

   While Cipollone's words and warnings have been prominent throughout the 
public hearings this month, Hutchinson shared more about his actions, revealing 
that he was trying frantically in the days before Jan. 6 to prevent Trump from 
going to the Capitol as the election results were certified.

   On Jan. 3, Cipollone warned that there were "serious legal concerns" if 
Trump accompanied the protesters to the Capitol, saying, "We need to make sure 
that this doesn't happen." By the morning of Jan. 6, Cipollone was urging 
Hutchinson, then an aide to chief of staff Mark Meadows, to "keep in touch" 
about any possible movements by the president and "please make sure we don't go 
up to the Capitol, Cassidy."

   If Trump did go to the Capitol, Hutchinson recalled Cipollone saying, "we're 
going to get charged with every crime imaginable." He had previously identified 
obstruction of justice or defrauding the electoral count as among the 
possibilities, she said.

   Back at the White House as the violent insurrection unfolded that afternoon, 
Hutchinson again placed Cipollone at the center of events, recounting how he at 
one point came "barreling down the hallway" for an urgent conversation with 
Meadows.

   "And I remember Pat saying to him something to the effect of, the rioters 
have gotten to the Capitol, Mark. We need to go down and see the president now. 
And Mark looked up at him and said, he doesn't want to do anything, Pat."

   Hutchinson said she also heard Meadows tell Cipollone that Trump was 
sympathetic to rioters wanting to hang then-Vice President Mike Pence over his 
refusal to try and stop the certification of Joe Biden's election victory.

   "You heard it, Pat," Meadows told Cipollone, in her recollection. "He thinks 
Mike deserves it. He doesn't think they're doing anything wrong."

   The Jan. 6 committee said it issued the subpoena in order to have 
Cipollone's testify on the record, something they said "other former White 
House counsels have done in other congressional investigations." An 
on-the-record interview would be transcribed, while informal interviews 
generally are not.

   Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, the other Republican on the committee, said 
last week that Cipollone told the committee he tried to intervene when he heard 
Trump was being advised by Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official 
who wanted to push false claims of voter fraud. Federal agents recently seized 
Clark's cell phone and conducted a search of his Virginia home.

   Clark had drafted a letter for key swing states that was never sent but 
would have falsely claimed the department had discovered troubling 
irregularities in the election. Cipollone was quoted by one witness as having 
told Trump in an Oval Office meeting that the letter was a "murder-suicide 
pact."

 
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