WASHINGTON — Former Trump White House adviser Pat Cipollone appeared before the Jan. 6 committee for a marathon interview Friday, where he sat over seven hours of questions.
Cipollone, who Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., has repeatedly described as a critical witness, joined the committee for a videotaped and transcribed interview behind closed doors around 8:45 a.m. ET, leaving shortly before 5:30 a.m. he took countless breaks with his lawyers throughout the day. He was in the deposition room for about seven and a half hours.
“He has been a cooperative witness within the bounds of his desire to protect executive privileges for the office of general counsel,” a source said. familiar with the first part of his testimony, he said earlier Friday.
After the interview, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a member of the Jan. 6 committee: CNN it was “a grueling day for everyone involved”, but “worth it”. The California Democrat said Cipollone “answered a whole host of questions” and “did not contradict the testimony of other witnesses.”
“I think we’ve learned a few things, which we’ll roll out in the upcoming hearings,” Lofgren said.
The panel subpoenaed Cipollone late last month after a bomb statement by Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to then-President Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, who overturned the attorney’s efforts to rein in Trump on Jan. 6 and the days before. explained in detail.
Hutchinson said Cipollone approached her on Jan. 3, 2021, after learning that Meadows had suggested the idea of going to the Capitol on Jan. 6, telling her, “This would be a terrible idea legally for us.”
The warning was even more stark on the morning of Jan. 6, Hutchinson said. “Mr. Cipollone said something along the lines of, ‘Please make sure we don’t go to the Capitol, Cassidy, keep in touch with me. We will be charged with every crime imaginable if we make that move possible,'” she testified. .
Hutchinson also said she heard Cipollone Meadows begging for help talking to Trump during the riot. She quoted Cipollone telling Meadows “something along the lines of, ‘Mark, something has to happen or people are going to die and the blood is on your bulging hands. This escalates.”
Cipollone — who defended Trump in his first impeachment trial — met with commission investigators for an informal interview earlier in April, but had resisted repeated calls from Cheney to meet for a more formal sit-down.
In a joint statement Last week, when they announced the subpoena, Cheney and committee chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said the “panel’s investigation has revealed evidence that Mr. Cipollone has repeatedly voiced legal and other concerns about President Trump’s activities” around 6 January. “While the select committee appreciates Mr. Cipollone’s previous informal involvement in our investigation, the committee needs to hear from him formally, as other former White House counsel have done in other congressional investigations. Any concerns Mr. Cipollone has about the institutional prerogatives of the office he previously held are clearly outweighed by the necessity of his testimony.”
In a letter to Cipollone in the subpoena, Thompson said the committee is looking at “Trump’s awareness of and involvement in activities undertaken to undermine the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, including the submission of false ballots to Congress and the executive, the attempted nomination of of Jeffrey Clark as Acting Attorney General, and efforts to disrupt congressional certification of the January 6, 2021 election results.” He said their investigation had shown that Cipollone has information “relating to these and other issues”.
Cipollone did not respond to questions from reporters outside the deposition room on Friday.
Also Friday, the attorney for Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes told NBC News that his client wants to testify before the committee a second time, but only if certain conditions are met.
Rhodes, who is in jail awaiting trial on seditious conspiracy charges and other charges related to the January 6 riots, is said to testify under oath publicly, but only in a live setting with his lawyers present, out of fear that his words would otherwise be taken out of context. attorney James Lee Bright said.
It is unclear what new information Rhodes could or would provide. Rhodes previously appeared from prison for a virtual statement with the committee in February, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 20 to 30 times.
Bright said the offer was extended to the committee on Friday. The panel declined to comment.
Daniel Barnes† Kyle Stewart and Julia Jester contributed†