Trump Lawyers Testify Before Grand Jury As Jack Smith Moves Forward

0
1068

Pat Cipollone and Pat Philbin — former top lawyers in the White House counsel’s office (Cipollone was counsel) — provided federal grand jury testimony on Friday, new reporting reveals.

The nature of the questions each faced is predictably unclear, but they could have both provided insight for investigators about either of the probes now overseen by Special Counsel Jack Smith, the former Justice Department official who was recently brought back in to oversee a pair of Trump-involved investigations. Those include the probes into Donald’s harboring of classified docs and the multi-faceted political scheming after the last election to keep Trump in power despite his loss. Cipollone was present at key junctures of the behind-the-scenes campaign for Trump to stay in power, including an hours-long December 2020 meeting at the White House where Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell advocated for drastic action, and Cipollone and Philbin were both named as Trump representatives to the federal record-keeping agency known as the National Archives as his presidency ended.

Another of Trump’s representatives to the Archives, former Defense Department official Kash Patel, also recently provided grand jury testimony for a second time after receiving limited immunity and what was reported as a court order to appear. During his prior appearance, he repeatedly invoked his Constitutional rights against self-incrimination, limiting his usefulness. POLITICO notes that both Cipollone and Philbin declined to answer questions as they departed the D.C. courthouse following their Friday grand jury appearances.

In the documents investigation, an appeals court recently ordered a shutdown of the review by a court-appointed third party known as a special master of unclassified items seized in a raid of a southern Florida Trump property. The move marked an early win for Smith, who joined the investigation amid the department’s push to end the special master’s time-consuming review. The judge selected for the role hadn’t yet made any new recommendations of blocking any additional documents from use by investigators.

Outside the federal level, Mark Meadows — the chief of staff in the Trump White House on January 6 — was recently unanimously ordered by the state Supreme Court in South Carolina to provide testimony for a Georgia criminal investigation into pro-Trump meddling after the last presidential race. He’d appealed a lower-court decision agreeing to the push for his testimony from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who has routinely sought and obtained the assent of judges local to out-of-state witnesses in obtaining their testimony.