The House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot issued a subpoena Wednesday to Trump-era White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who worked for former President Donald Trump through the chaotic end of his term—and helped dissuade Trump from taking radical steps to remain in office, the January 6 committee has revealed.
In a letter, committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said Cipollone appeared for an “informal interview” with the panel in April but has declined to return since then.
Lawmakers have urged Cipollone to appear voluntarily, with the select committee’s vice-chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) saying at a hearing last week “the American people deserve to hear from Mr. Cipollone personally.”
An unnamed person close to Cipollone told the New York Times last week the former White House counsel has sought to cooperate with lawmakers but is worried about issues of privilege, but the select committee argued in a Wednesday evening statement any institutional concerns are “clearly outweighed by the need for his testimony.”
Forbes has reached out to Cipollone for comment.
Cipollone began serving as the White House’s top attorney in December 2018 and was usually a zealous advocate for Trump, attacking congressional Democrats over the 2019 impeachment inquiry. But after Trump lost his reelection and began seeking to overturn Joe Biden’s victory, Cipollone often pushed back against this gambit, according to testimony during this month’s January 6 committee hearings. In the final weeks of Trump’s term, Cipollone castigated Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark for drafting a letter that would have asked Georgia lawmakers to reverse Biden’s win in the state, an idea Cipollone called a “murder-suicide pact,” former DOJ officials testified last week. The Times and Axios reported in December 2020 that Cipollone argued against even more extreme ideas floated by Trump allies, like taking custody of voting machines and making conspiratorial attorney Sidney Powell a special counsel to investigate voter fraud. Cipollone also repeatedly spoke out against the idea of Trump driving to Capitol Hill on January 6, telling White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson they’ll “get charged with every crime imaginable,” and he urged Trump’s top advisors to “do something more” about the riot that day, Hutchinson testified Tuesday. Cipollone and his team threatened to resign following the 2020 election, which Trump’s advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner waved off as “whining” in recorded testimony.
Cheney said in a hearing last week “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 6th.”
Some Trump loyalists have refused to cooperate with the committee’s investigation, often citing executive privilege, a legal doctrine that allows presidents to keep some communications secret. Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon was criminally charged with contempt of Congress after he declined to follow a January 6 committee subpoena, and the committee has recommended similar contempt charges against several other Trump aides.