The House committee investigating the Capitol riot heard last Friday from ex-Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone, and a statement from committee spokesperson Tim Mulvey indicates the panel obtained a significant amount of important information during the lawyer’s lengthy sit-down.
“In our interview with Mr. Cipollone, the Committee received critical testimony on nearly every major topic in its investigation, reinforcing key points regarding Donald Trump’s misconduct and providing highly relevant new information that will play a central role in its upcoming hearings,” according to Mulvey. “This includes information demonstrating Donald Trump’s supreme dereliction of duty.” Per CBS reporter Scott MacFarlane, Mulvey also said: “The testimony also corroborated key elements of Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony. Allegations of some preinterview agreement to limit Cipollone’s testimony are completely false.” The committee has its next public hearing planned for this Tuesday. It’ll cover topics including the involvement in the Capitol violence of extremist groups such as the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys.
According to committee member Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), Cipollone invoked privilege claims during his Friday time with the committee — but he was there for a long time, and a lot of rhetorical ground was covered. Cipollone “claimed privilege on conversations that related to the advice he provided directly to the president or conversations with the president,” according to Murphy, but panel investigators “still got a lot of relevant information from him, and it provides us another perspective on what was happening in the White House in those weeks running up to January 6 that were so critically important.” According to Murphy, Cipollone spoke to the panel of “concerns” and “reservations” he had regarding certain conduct in which Trump was engaged. Adding Cipollone’s voice to the chorus pushing back on what Trump was doing makes it only more difficult for there to be any remotely reasonable argument that Trump couldn’t have known what he was doing was brazenly in the wrong.
A federal judge didn’t conclude Trump was likely — although not certainly — guilty of criminal misconduct in connection to his election subversion attempts for no reason. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the vice chair of the riot committee, just recently indicated it remained a possibility for the panel to eventually issue a criminal referral implicating the former president. A referral would not force the Justice Department to bring charges against Trump, but it would come with significant evidence against him — although Cheney noted the Justice Department doesn’t need to wait for the committee to bring charges. The department hasn’t been particularly open about its investigations into the pro-Trump election subversion attempts, although they recently revealed they were in some capacity targeting figures including ex-Trump lawyer John Eastman and former Trump Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark.