Eight of Clubs: Pat Cipollone, lead defense attorney, 2020 Senate impeachment trial, aghast at Trump’s intent to march on the Capitol

Cipollone’s claim:  “In fact, we believe that when you hear the facts and that’s what we intend to cover today, the facts, you will find that the president did absolutely nothing wrong.” 

The facts: 

U.S. ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland delivered bombshell testimony, stating that President Trump was directly involved in putting pressure on Ukraine to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. “Everyone was in the loop,” Sondland told investigators. 

vox.com, Jan. 25, 2020 

President Trump reacts to the facts: 

“Trump Fires Impeachment Witness Gordon Sondland” nytimes.com, Feb. 7, 2020

“Lt. Col. Vindman fired by White House after testifying in Trump impeachment.” starsandstripes.com, July 8, 2020

“Trump fires the inspector general of the intelligence community, Michael Atkinson, who informed Congress about anonymous Ukraine complaint that led to Trump’s impeachment. 

marketwatch.com, Apr. 4, 20​20

According to Republican John Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened” (2020),  it’s fair to say that the President Trump’s former national security adviser agreed with Democrats that Trump politicized foreign policy for his own gain. Bolton claims Trump did so on multiple occasions.

He writes that Democrats committed “impeachment malpractice” for not investigating beyond Ukraine and says Trump asked China for help, too. But at the time, Bolton refused to testify willingly or even with a subpoena. 

washingtonpost.com, Jun. 22, 2020


President Trump  attempted to turn foreign policy into a tool of his reelection. 

theatlantic.com, Oct, 13, 2020

The White House Counsel and Trump’s Attack on the 2020 Election

By Bob Bauer

Wednesday, December 23, 2020,

Bob Bauer served as White House Counsel to President Obama.


During Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation, President Trump was famously quoted as complaining about the quality of the lawyering he was getting. To him, the notorious Roy Cohn set the gold standard: “a very loyal guy” who had been “vicious to others in his defense of me.” Trump did not believe that his White House counsel Don McGahn, much less his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, met the loyalty test.

And now it appears that Trump feels that Pat Cipollone, his current White House counsel, is also failing it. Jonathan Swan reports that Trump is fed up” with this White House counsel. The president has been meeting in the Oval Office with the likes of Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn, entertaining proposals for overturning the 2020 election that include the seizure of voting machines and the imposition of martial law. And Trump has apparently concluded that Cipollone is unacceptably faint of heart. Cipollone’s offense apparently lies in his strenuous objections to the various attacks on the 2020 presidential election that Powell and company are urging a willing president to consider.

The question that these appalling Oval Office stories present is not whether the president can overturn the election. He cannot. It is how Cipollone will respond. Is it enough for him to register his disapproval in Oval Office discussions? Or should the White House counsel take other action to emphasize the nature of his role and the obligations that come with it: Cipollone is a lawyer for the government, not a personal or political lawyer for the president, and he is accountable to the public for how he responds to extraordinary situations such as these.


2022: “When, oh Lord, when will the elite political media treat the current Republican Party as the threat to the republic that it most obviously is?” asked Charlie Pierce in Esquire:

CBS News has hired Mick Mulvaney as a paid on-air contributor. In his first official appearance on Tuesday morning to talk about President Joe Biden’s budget proposal, anchor Anne-Marie Green introduced Mulvaney as “a former Office of Management and Budget director,” and said, “So happy to have you here…. You’re the guy to ask about this.”

While retaining his role at the head of the Office of Management and Budget, Mulvaney took on the job of acting White House chief of staff on January 2, 2019. This unprecedented dual role put him in a key place to do an end run around official U.S. diplomats in Ukraine and to set up a back channel to put pressure on newly elected Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky to announce he was launching an investigation into the actions of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.

As director of OMB, Mulvaney okayed the withholding of almost $400 million Congress had appropriated for Ukraine’s protection against Russia. In May 2019, he set up “the three amigos,” Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, special envoy Kurt Volker, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, to pressure Zelensky. When the story came out, Mulvaney told the press that Trump had indeed withheld the money to pressure Zelensky to help him cheat in the 2020 election. “I have news for everybody,” he said. “Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.” He immediately walked the story back, but there it was.

This event was the basis for Trump’s first impeachment. While Republican senators refused to hold Trump accountable, the Government Accountability Office found that withholding the money was illegal. Ironically, the GAO report came out during Trump’s second impeachment.


Where Cipollone eventually draw the line . . .


Trump’s election lies and the Republicans who corrected him



As Donald Trump sought to overturn the results of the 2020 election, a chorus of top Republicans told him repeatedly that his claims of widespread voter fraud were false.

That pushback now sits at the heart of the federal indictment brought against Trump this week in the Justice Department investigation of his attempts to cling to power.

Special counsel Jack Smith is setting out to show that Trump knew he was lying when he unleashed his torrent of election falsehoods that culminated with the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol — an important part for convicting Trump on the four charges he’s facing.

To that end, the indictment lays out a drumbeat of episodes — many of them already public — when Trump was told that bogus statements about fraudulent ballots being counted or votes being flipped to Joe Biden were false. They came from a range of people in his orbit, including White House lawyers, administration appointees, state GOP officials and his campaign staffers. Trump has denied wrongdoing.

The indictment references at least nine administration officials, among others, who told Trump that the election was not stolen or that his schemes to remain in the White House were untenable. The officials are not named in the indictment, but some of their identities can be discerned by matching descriptions of their activities in the indictment with public reporting. Here are the key people who corrected Trump on his election lies and what they said:

Avatar of White House Counsel Pat Cipollone

On the evening of Jan. 6, 2021, after law enforcement quelled the violence at the Capitol, Cipollone called on Trump to “withdraw any objections and allow the certification” of Biden’s victory, according to the indictment. Trump refused.


The Memo: New Trump revelations bolster critics while fans shrug


Thursday’s interim report from the Senate Judiciary Committee recounted a meeting on Jan. 3, three days before the Capitol Hill riot, in which Trump’s desire to appoint an ultra-loyalist as the acting attorney general was only thwarted when top Department of Justice (DOJ) officials threatened to resign.

The DOJ’s leaders were joined in that promise by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who apparently argued that Trump’s plan to install Jeffrey Clark as attorney general amounted to a “murder-suicide pact.” Clark, a previously obscure member of the DOJ, was among the most vigorous voices pressing Trump’s fictional claims of election fraud. [Boldface added]


Alexander Vindman sues Trump Jr. and Giuliani, alleging retaliation over first Trump impeachment proceedings

By Amy B Wang

February 2, 2022 



Alexander Vindman, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and former White House national security aide, is suing several allies of former president Donald Trump, alleging that they intimidated and retaliated against him while he was a key witness during Trump’s first impeachment.

According to the 73-page complaint, Vindman’s lawsuit “seeks long-overdue accountability for unlawful actions knowingly undertaken by close associates and allies” of Trump, alleging that they “engaged in an intentional, concerted campaign of unlawful intimidation and retaliation against [Vindman] to prevent him from and then punish him for testifying truthfully before Congress during impeachment proceedings against President Trump.”

Those named as defendants in Vindman’s lawsuit include Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s eldest son; former Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani; former White House deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino; and former White House deputy communications director Julia Hahn. The complaint alleges that the defendants violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which makes it unlawful to conspire to interfere with a federal official’s ability to carry out the duties of their office or to interfere with any witness’s ability to testify.

Vindman, who was formerly the National Security Council’s expert on Ukraine, had listened to a July 2019 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden and his ties to Ukrainian businesses. Vindman reported the call through official channels, and Trump’s alleged attempts to pressure Ukraine into political investigations by leveraging promises of an official White House visit by Zelensky and military aid would later become the basis of his first impeachment and Senate trial.

Congress issued a subpoena to Vindman, who testified in an impeachment inquiry about his concerns over Trump’s actions involving Ukraine. Vindman immediately became the target of a witness-intimidation campaign by Trump and his allies that “did not simply happen by accident or coincidence,” his lawsuit alleges.

Vindman, who was formerly the National Security Council’s expert on Ukraine, had listened to a July 2019 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden and his ties to Ukrainian businesses. Vindman reported the call through official channels, and Trump’s alleged attempts to pressure Ukraine into political investigations by leveraging promises of an official White House visit by Zelensky and military aid would later become the basis of his first impeachment and Senate trial.

Congress issued a subpoena to Vindman, who testified in an impeachment inquiry about his concerns over Trump’s actions involving Ukraine. Vindman immediately became the target of a witness-intimidation campaign by Trump and his allies that “did not simply happen by accident or coincidence,” his lawsuit alleges.

 Letters from an American, Heather Cox Richardson <heathercoxrichardson@substack.com>

February 28, 2022


That word “enablers” seems an important one, for since 2016 there have been plenty of apologists for Putin here in the U.S. And yet now, with the weight of popular opinion shifting toward a defense of democracy, Republicans who previously cozied up to Putin are suddenly stating their support for Ukraine and trying to suggest that Putin has gotten out of line only because he sees Biden as weak. Under Trump, they say, Putin never would have invaded Ukraine, and they are praising Trump for providing aid to Ukraine in 2019.

They are hoping that their present support for Ukraine and democracy makes us forget their past support for Putin, even as former president Trump continues to call him “smart.” And yet, Republicans changed their party’s 2016 platform to favor Russia over Ukraine; accepted Trump’s abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria in October 2019, giving Russia a strategic foothold in the Middle East; and looked the other way when Trump withheld $391 million to help Ukraine resist Russian invasion until newly elected Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky agreed to help rig the 2020 U.S. presidential election. (Trump did release the money after the story of the “perfect phone call” came out, but the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which investigated the withholding of funds, concluded that holding back the money at all was illegal.) [Boldface added]

But rather than making us forget Republicans’ enabling of Putin’s expansion, the new story in which democracy has the upper hand might have the opposite effect. Now that people can clearly see exactly the man Republicans have supported, they will want to know why our leaders, who have taken an oath to our democratic Constitution, were willing to throw in their lot with a foreign autocrat. The answer to that question might well force us to rethink a lot of what we thought we knew about the last several years. [Boldface added]


John Bolton: Not accurate to say ‘Trump’s behavior somehow deterred the Russians’





Former national security adviser John Bolton pushed back against the idea that former President Trump’s behavior discouraged Russian military aggression while he was in office, saying, “It’s just not accurate to say that Trump’s behavior somehow deterred the Russians.”

During an interview with Bolton, Newsmax host Rob Schmitt said that “there is something to be said, though, about the simple fact that there was not aggression during the four years” Trump was in office, noting a list of actions that the Washington think tank Brookings Institution said the Trump administration took against Russia. 

“I mean, he took a very tough stance against Russia. I’m surprised you don’t think that he would have handled it better than Joe Biden,” Schmitt told Bolton.

“He did not,” Bolton replied. “We didn’t sanction Nord Stream 2. We should have. We should have brought the project to an end. We did impose sanctions on Russian oligarchs and several others because of their sales of S-400 anti-aircraft systems to other countries. But in almost every case, the sanctions were imposed with Trump complaining about it, saying we were being too hard.”

The Trump-era national security adviser claimed the former president did not know where Ukraine was on a map and said he believed Russia did not take more aggressive actions while Trump was in office because Russia “didn’t feel that their military was ready.”

“The fact is that he barely knew where Ukraine was. He once asked John Kelly, his second chief of staff, if Finland were a part of Russia. It’s just not accurate to say that Trump’s behavior somehow deterred the Russians,” Bolton said.


Pat Cipollone’s Pyrrhic victory . . . .
The real hero of the Trump administration? None other than . . .


Alexander Vindman on Why It’s the ‘Beginning of the End’ for Putin

The former Ukraine expert for the National Security Council shares his take on the Russia-Ukraine war.

Tuesday, March 1st, 2022

Jane Coaston



The quid pro quos of Gordon D. Sondland

Long after his turn as a key witness at Donald Trump’s first impeachment, the former E.U. ambassador wants another kind of public hearing

May 6, 2022

Gordon Sondland is a walking asterisk, a footnote that was once a headline, a man who made some history without really changing the course of it. As memoirs of the Donald J. Trump presidency have zipped to everyone’s tablets, Sondland has searched his name in their indexes. It usually falls somewhere between “Sergei Magnitsky Act” and “Soros, George.” Sondland hasn’t liked what he has read about himself, as the U.S. ambassador to the European Union from 2018 to 2020. No one’s gotten the Gordon Sondland part of the story exactly right, according to Gordon Sondland. Meanwhile, recent memoirists like Fiona Hill and Alexander Vindman — White House advisers who also testified during Trump’s first impeachment hearings — have been lauded anew as heroes, sages, patriots. And Gordon Sondland …

“I was a doofus,” he says, paraphrasing the popular caricature.

Do you remember Gordon Sondland? His turn in the spotlight happened two impeachments and one insurrection ago, which felt like another lifetime until Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Suddenly, in retrospect, the bumbling and angling revealed during Trump’s first impeachment proceedings took on a sheen of portent. And Gordon Sondland — who courted and championed Volodymyr Zelensky long before the Ukrainian leader became a wartime legend — thinks that he looks, in retrospect, not at all like a doofus.

“Hindsight is an amazing thing,” says Sondland, 64, sitting in a booth at the steakhouse of the Four Seasons in Georgetown. His initials are embroidered on his shirt cuffs. Lunch is a gem lettuce Caesar salad with chilled shrimp.

He was a hotelier ambassador hired by a hotelier president. He was the guy with the wristwatch that cost a small fortune, the “Who, me?” look on the hot seat, the vibe that fell somewhere between charming and smarmy. He was the guy who helped insert into the congressional record the name of rapper A$AP Rocky and the phrase “loves your ass” (which Sondland uttered on a phone call with Trump from a restaurant in Kyiv; the alleged admirer was Zelensky, then the new president of Ukraine). During Sondland’s 2019 testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, he publicly confirmed the quid pro quo: Zelensky wanted a meeting with Trump, and Trump wanted Zelensky to announce an investigation of an energy company associated with Joe Biden’s son Hunter. Trump deputized his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to handle the matter, and Giuliani made clear that such a meeting had a certain price.

Sondland in 2019: ‘Was there a quid pro quo? The answer is yes’ [Boldface added]

What unfurled was “a continuum of insidiousness,” as Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) called it, that included the preconditioning of an Oval Office visit for Zelensky and the withholding of military aid to Kyiv. Sondland says he was swept along on that continuum while focused solely on one goal: getting Trump and Zelensky together to spark a friendship and strengthen the alliance.

“I really regret that the Ukrainians were placed in that predicament,” Sondland testified in 2019, “but I do not regret doing what I could to try to break the logjam and to solve the problem.”

Sondland felt then that Ukraine was in a vulnerable place, he says over lunch, “and now we’re proven correct.”

But in hindsight, does he wish that he had tried to stop the quid pro quo?

“Well, you had to have been there,” Sondland says when asked this question for the first time.

When asked it a second time, seven minutes later, he says: “None of us are perfect.”

When asked it a third time, five days later, on the phone, he is more specific: “My own mistake was probably buying into the whole Giuliani narrative and allowing a nongovernmental actor to interfere in a very ambiguous way with U.S. foreign policy.” [Boldface added]

Sondland, now a divorcé, recently relocated from his lifelong home in the Pacific Northwest to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Why? “Taxes.”) Last month, his boutique hotel chain merged with a larger company, and he will sit on its board of directors. He’s still suing the U.S. government for not paying his nearly$1.8 million in legal fees related to the impeachment. His own memoir, due out in October, is going through a security review, although it contains no bombshells. Its working title is “The Envoy: Mastering the Art of Diplomacy with Trump and the World.”

Let’s pause here to allow 10,000 career diplomats to roll their eyes.

Sondland won his ambassadorship and a starring role in the impeachment through “my relentless nature, my sometimes unhealthy drive and ambition, and a big serving of both candor and humor,” he writes in a manuscript ofthe memoir, in which he compares himself to both Icarus and Mercutio. “It’s been a special formula of luck, pluck, and f—ing up that’s helped me achieve great success. It’s also created huge problems for me and those close to me.” After “telling the truth on the stand, Trump fired me, Democrats lauded my honesty, and Republicans couldn’t quite figure out what I really wanted — or what the hell just happened.”

What did happen? How should we make sense of Gordon Sondland’s cameo in this disorienting period of American politics?

Sondland, the college-dropout son of immigrants who fled Nazi Germany, thirsted for an ambassadorship for decades. He used his self-made wealth and connections to make inroads into politics. He volunteered. He networked. He fundraised. He chaired finance committee for campaigns. In 2008, he bet on John McCain. In 2012, he bet on Mitt Romney. In 2016, he bet on a third consecutive loser, Jeb Bush, then cut his losses with the Trump team.

Sondland is not embarrassed to say that his $1 million donation to Trump’s inaugural committee helped finally grant his wish. For both Democrats and Republicans, ambassadorships have long been part of a quid pro quo: status for dollars.

“I think he’s sort of the poster child of why donor-ambassadors aren’t a great idea,” says Max Bergmann, who worked in the State Department under Barack Obama and is now director of the Europe program for the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It’s not like he’s a bad guy. He seemed like someone who was energetic, which can be rare in this sphere, and wanted to be involved in U.S. foreign policy. But he has no experience, no knowledge of how these things work,” and “then gets involved in what was a shakedown of a foreign country.”

Memoirs are not written under oath, but they do have the benefit of hindsight, and a composite sketch of Sondland has emerged. In her memoir, Fiona Hill groups Sondland with “clever sycophants” running a “domestic errand” for Trump. Sondland had “the air of someone who enjoyed his position of prominence,” writes Marie Yovanovitch, who, while enduring a smear campaign as ambassador to Ukraine, asked Sondland how to get Trump to publicly support her (Sondland suggested tweeting praise of the president). The memoir published by John Bolton, at one point Trump’s national security adviser, drips with disdain for Sondland and paints him as a dopey interloper engaged in a kind of political “drug deal.” Vindman, in his memoir, squarely accuses Sondland of pushing the “improper” quid pro quo.

“Everyone who writes these books, especially this group, think they’re hot s—, right? And they’re not,” Sondland says. “They’re human beings, right? They made mistakes. I made mistakes.”And Sondland thinks that admitting his mistakes makes him more credible.

His version of history, recorded with the help of a ghostwriter, is both boastful and self-deprecating. His motivations were rooted in both “a desire to make a difference” and “a desire to be noticed.”He disparages “the global diplomatic system” as anachronistic, prissy, overpopulated (“There are just too many people”). He calls Bolton “extremely insecure,” Hill “a whiner” and Vindman’s heroic reputation “far from the truth.”

When asked for comment, Vindman said via a spokesman: “There are much more important issues right now than someone trying to rehabilitate their reputation.”

In his manuscript, Sondland faults Vindman and others for not just saying to him “I disagree with your tactics” or “You’re an idiot; back off.” Vindman writes in his own memoir that he “directly and passionately objected to the deal” in a July 2019 White House meeting that included Sondland and Zelensky’s national security adviser. “I knew, I told Sondland, that everyone wanted to get the relationship with Ukraine back on track,”Vindman writes, “but this was by no means the way to do it.”

Sondland isproud of the tariff war with Europe and that he warned of Russia’s energy dominance in Europe vis-a-vis Ukraine (“If Europe allows new Russian gas arteries into the heart of the continent, it will find itself hosting a Trojan horse,” he wrote in a 2019 op-ed in the Financial Times). His biggest goal in Brussels, he writes, was to fuse the United States and European Union into “an unstoppable Western bloc to counter malign forces and authoritarianism around the world.”

Never mind that Ukraine isn’t in the E.U., and that the E.U. isn’t NATO, and Trump didn’t seem to care about any of it, unless his political fortunes were affected. Sondland wanted to bring Zelensky insidethe Trump tent, he says, but got caught up in a simmering controversy “like a frog in hot water.”

“I believe he genuinely thought what he was doing was going to help Ukraine, by removing a sticking point that blocked this military aid to Ukraine,” says Peter D. Feaver, a professor of political science at Duke University, to which Sondland’s family foundation donated $2 million last year.

“Since I have talked with him over the years about foreign policy, I find the account he gives of his motivations and what he was trying to accomplish quite plausible,” adds Feaver, who served on George W. Bush’s National Security Council. “I can also empathize with how his efforts looked to the NSC staff, who would find it challenging to coordinate across all of these actors in the already chaotic environment of the Trump administration.”

The professor, who considers Sondland a friend, wants to host a public conversation between the former ambassador and Vindman. Last month, the pair of impeachment witnesses actually ran into each other at a D.C. fundraiser for Ukrainian refugees. It had the makings of an awkward scene a la “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” the HBO show in which Vindman guest-starred as himself last year, but the pair chatted amiably about the notion of a public conversation — perhaps on professional vs. political appointees in government.

Maybe that’s the Gordon Sondland part of the story: Elect a certain president, get a certain cast of characters. Or the story might be about the long game for relevance or the shortest route to a goal. It might be about barging through doors but never burning bridges.In August 2016, after Trump denigrated the gold-star family of Khizr Khan, Sondland withdrew his support for the Republican nominee only to return after his election with the $1 million donation. Sondland thinks Trump damaged the American brand by not conceding the 2020 election, but he also praises Trump’s policies and ethos. Sondland writes that he’ll “never forgive” Trump for what happened on Jan. 6 of last year, while not ruling out supporting him in 2024. Would he do the job of ambassador again? “In a heartbeat,” Sondland says.

Maybe the Gordon Sondland part of the story is what it always appeared to be.

“Yes, I’m the quid pro quo guy,” he writes in the memoir, “but you know what? Everything in life is some kind of a quid pro quo.”

Jared Kushner just detests whiners . . .

Jared and Ivanka, Without the Power or the Masks

In stark videotaped interviews, Ivanka Trump accepted the notion that there had been no fraud in the 2020 election. Jared Kushner complained that a White House counsel had been “whining.”


Next was Mr. Kushner. In his video he was pressed by Representative Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice chairwoman, about whether he was aware that the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, had been threatening to resign because Mr. Trump was making increasingly outlandish efforts to stay in power. [Boldface added]

“Like I said,” said Mr. Kushner, who was rarely heard from in public during his father-in-law’s presidency, “my interest at that time was on trying to get as many” presidential pardons finished as possible. Mr. Kushner repeatedly inserted himself into the pardons process, prompting complaints from legal experts and some of his colleagues. He added that he knew that Mr. Cipollone and “the team were always saying, ‘Oh we are going to resign, we are not going to be there if this happens, if that happens.’ So I kind of took it up to just be whining, to be honest with you.” [Boldface added]

Ms. Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, sounding grim, spoke to the hearing room after the video ended. “Whining,” she said. “There’s a reason why people serving in our government take an oath to the constitution. As our founding fathers recognized, democracy is fragile. The people in positions of public trust are duty bound to defend it, to step forward when action is required. In our country, we don’t swear an oath to an individual or a political party.”

Mr. Kushner’s words enraged Mr. Cipollone’s former colleagues, many of whom traded messages as they complained to reporters and one another as the hearing went on that the former president’s son-in-law was “arrogant.”

No two people had positioned themselves as prominently in Mr. Trump’s White House as his daughter and his son-in-law, who came on as official advisers despite anti-nepotism laws and warnings from other aides that hiring family members can be fraught. Over four years, the two tended carefully to their images.

Aides feared getting on the wrong side of the couple, who lived in Washington’s expensive Kalorama neighborhood and hosted dinners for the city’s political elite.

The videos made clear that both were aware that things were going awry within the White House. But according to more than a half-dozen former Trump advisers, although both have attempted to distance themselves from that period, neither made much of an effort to pull Mr. Trump away from his obsession with staying in power.

Instead, they left that task to the paid staff, who in turn kept waiting for the family to intervene more aggressively. Shortly after Election Day, most aides tried to avoid the Oval Office, fearful of having to listen to Mr. Trump vent. They were also eager to avoid the worst- case scenario: a directive from Mr. Trump that might have been illegal, and could have ensnared them in an investigation.


Letters from an American, Heather Cox Richardson

June 29, 2022

Today, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol subpoenaed former White House counsel Pasquale “Pat” Cipollone. The lawyer, who is now in private practice, spoke to the committee on April 13 but has not talked with the members on the record.

In a statement, committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and vice chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) noted that Cipollone’s name has come up repeatedly in the hearings as having “legal and other concerns about President Trump’s activities on January 6th and in the days that preceded.” Testimony has said Cipollone stood with then–acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen to stop Trump from installing Jeffrey Clark in that spot to lie to the American people that the 2020 election was fraudulent; he also came up frequently in yesterday’s testimony as trying—and failing—to keep Trump from breaking the law on January 6.

Thompson and Cheney wrote that they appreciated Cipollone’s previous cooperation but that the committee needs to hear from him “on the record, as other former White House counsels have done in other congressional investigations.”

There is no doubt that Cipollone holds powerful information about what happened in the White House during that crucial time, and his testimony likely could put people in jail.

Former federal prosecutor and co-host of the Sisters In Law podcast Joyce White Vance tweeted: “No reason Cipollone shouldn’t show up. He can always object to questions that would elicit legitimately privileged information. But at this point, who are you going to protect—the former president or the Republic?”



A Strengthening Case Against Donald Trump

After the last two weeks of testimony at the January 6th committee hearings, she says the answer is tilting toward yes on both counts in the case of former President Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson served up new details about President Trump’s behavior before, during, and after the attack on the Capitol. Her testimony filled in some of the blanks legal experts said might prevent the Department of Justice from indicting the former president.

The committee has now issued a subpoena for the former White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, who opposed plans to overturn the 2020 election – and is seen as a critical witness in establishing criminal liability.

Barbara McQuade joined Diane to help explain the strengthening case against Donald Trump.


Barbara McQuade, Former United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan; professor, University of Michigan Law School



Mr. Cipollone is the highest-ranking White House official in the lead-up to Jan. 6 who is known to have been called to testify by federal investigators.

Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel under former President Donald J. Trump who tried to stop some of his more extreme efforts to overturn the 2020 election, has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury investigating activities in the lead-up to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, a person familiar with the subpoena said.

It was unclear which grand jury had called Mr. Cipollone to testify as a witness. Two are known to be hearing evidence and testimony — one looking at the scheme by some of Mr. Trump’s lawyers and advisers to assemble slates of electors who would falsely claim that Mr. Trump was the actual winner of the election, and another focused on the events of Jan. 6.

But Mr. Cipollone is the highest-ranking White House official working for Mr. Trump during his final days in office who is known to have been called to testify by federal investigators.

He was in the West Wing as Mr. Trump’s supporters violently stormed the Capitol and the president refused repeatedly to call them off. Mr. Cipollone also attended several meetings in the run-up to the riot in which Mr. Trump and his allies discussed how they could overturn the election and keep him in office.

Mr. Cipollone repeatedly pushed back on those efforts.

The subpoena was reported earlier by ABC News. An aide to Mr. Cipollone did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment.

Mr. Cipollone’s appearance has been requested at a time when federal prosecutors are sharpening their focus on the conduct of Mr. Trump, and not simply the people who were advising him.

In recent weeks, investigators have asked witnesses questions about Mr. Trump and his actions, including of people who worked in the White House. Two former senior advisers to Vice President Mike Pence — his chief of staff, Marc Short, and his chief counsel, Greg Jacob — recently testified before one of the grand juries, according to people familiar with their appearances.

Given the nature of Mr. Cipollone’s job, it was unclear how much information he would provide. He was subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot and the events that helped precipitate it, and sat for a transcribed, recorded interview.

But certain terms were discussed ahead of time, and Mr. Cipollone, citing attorney-client and executive privilege, declined to discuss specific conversations with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Cipollone was a witness to some of the most significant moments in Mr. Trump’s push to overturn the election results, including discussions about seizing voting machines, meddling in the Justice Department and sending false letters to state officials about election fraud.

“That’s a terrible idea for the country,” he said of suggestions that the Trump administration seize voting machines, adding, “That’s not how we do things in the United States.”

Mr. Cipollone was also in direct contact with Mr. Trump on Jan. 6 as rioters stormed the Capitol and told the House committee he believed more should have been done to call off the mob.

“I think I was pretty clear there needed to be an immediate and forceful response, statement, public statement, that people need to leave the Capitol now,” Mr. Cipollone testified.

Katie Benner contributed reporting.


Justice subpoenas of Trump counsel mark turning point 


Cipollone, Philbin expected to appear Friday before federal grand jury probing Jan. 6: Sources

The two former top Trump White House lawyers were subpoenaed earlier.

By Katherine Faulders and John Santucci

September 1, 2022


“Voting is not only our right—it is our power.”

— Loung Ung