Donald Trump seems to be pretty concerned about what former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone will say to the January 6th Committee in his closed-door testimony tomorrow. In fact, the former president blew up on his social media site, suggesting that this would set a precedent making future presidents afraid to confide in their counsel, lest he “reveal inner secrets” to “even a fair and reasonable Committee.”
Trump has openly attacked those who’ve testified about the events leading up to the January 6th attack on Congress, and of course the panel itself, but he seems especially concerned now that an attorney whose advice he may have relied on in those last weeks in office plans to testify. Last week, Cipollone’s name came up repeatedly in testimony, and after the Committee issued a subpoena, the former White House counsel agreed to testify on the record. (He had already spoken to the Committee informally.)
Trump responded on Truth Social, posting, as follows:
“Why would a future President of the United States want to have candid and important conversations with his White House Counsel if he thought there was even a small chance that this person, essentially acting as a “lawyer” for the Country, may some day be brought before a partisan and openly hostile Committee in Congress, or even a fair and reasonable Committee, to reveal the inner secrets of foreign policy or other important matters. So bad for the USA!”
Aside from the fact that Trump clearly isn’t happy that Cipollone will testify, the post also seems to demonstrate that the former president thought “a lawyer for the country” would be in the business of protecting Trump, the individual, rather than the country as a whole, or the office of the President of the United States.
He also suggests that Cipollone could reveal “inner secrets of foreign policy” to Members of Congress, though witnesses typically have their own legal counsel to advise them on matters they should not answer, and though Cipollone presumably has his own experience and knowledge about what is and isn’t appropriate to share with Congress.
Perhaps more important to Trump are the unspecified “other important matters” he mentions — but the privilege that other potential witnesses have cited on Trump’s behalf may not be a a protective shield for him, when the attorney was not in service to him personally.
Notably, Cipollone will presumably be called on to affirm or deny testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson and others, who have testified that the White House counsel had to talk Trump down from numerous illegal plans; that he had a role in the fight to prevent Trump from going to the Capitol on January 6th; and that he had a conversation with Trump in which the then-president said that Mike Pence “deserved” the death threats and attacks, among other things.
If these things are all untrue, as Trump and his allies have asserted, then Cipollone’s testimony would surely exonerate Trump on several accounts.
What's Your Reaction?
Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com