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Who is Pat Cipollone? Former Trump White House Counsel testified before Jan. 6 committee

Jan. 6 panel says Trump tweet incited Capitol attack
Jan. 6 committee says Trump tweet incited Capitol attack 03:18

President Donald Trump's former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone was called to testify last week before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Cipollone was subpoenaed to testify last month, after former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson mentioned him multiple times during her testimony. Who is Pat Cipollone? 

Jan. 6 hearings

Several witnesses have testified that Cipollone was one of the main White House officials who opposed attempts by Mr. Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The Select Committee investigating the insurrection says there is evidence that Cipollone repeatedly raised legal and other concerns about Mr. Trump's activities on Jan. 6 and the days leading up to it.

Hutchinson testified that Cipollone strongly opposed Trump's efforts to travel to the Capitol on January 6. "Please make sure we don't go up to the Capitol, Cassidy," she recalled him saying. "Keep in touch with me. We're going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen."

Hutchinson also said Cipollone and others in the White House counsel's office were concerned about language Trump wanted in his speech at the Ellipse on Jan. 6. Cipollone did not want to include mentions of potential pardons for those involved in the January 6 Capitol assault. 

During Tuesday's hearing, Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Florida Democrat, said Cipollone and his deputy did not attend the speech at the Ellipse "and they were concerned that the statements in the speech about the election were false."

Part of Cipollone's previous interview with the committee was also played during Tuesday's hearing. He said he thought Pence did the right thing by allowing for the certification of the 2020 election results, and had no other choice.

"I thought that the vice president did not have the authority to do what was being suggested under a proper reading of the law," said Cipollone. "I conveyed that. I think I actually told somebody in the vice president's — 'Just blame me. I'm not a politician.' I just said, 'I'm a lawyer, this is my legal opinion.'"

Role as White House counsel

Cipollone was on the president's legal team during his first impeachment trial before the Senate. During that trial, which began in 2020, Trump was charged with obstruction of justice and was acquitted. Cipollone worked alongside Longtime Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz and former independent counsel Ken Starr during that trial. 

Ahead of the president's second impeachment trial, several lawyers, including Jay Sekulow and Cipollone, decided not to defend him. In that impeachment trial, the president was charged for inciting the insurrection and was again acquitted.

A group of Republican senators called several White House officials, including Cipollone, after the insurrection, in an effort to convince them to stay on until Mr. Trump left office, according to an aide to Senator Mike Lee. 

Cipollone had threatened to resign as White House counsel in early 2021. At the time, Mr. Trump was trying to enlist the Justice Department to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election over baseless claims of election fraud.

When Mr. Trump wanted to replace Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, Cipollone told Mr. Trump that his plans to fire Rosen and install Clark amounted to a "murder-suicide pact," the Senate Judiciary Committee said in a report. Clark had pushed false claims about election irregularities in Georgia, according to the report.

Law career

Cipollone is a partner at Ellis George Cipollone O'Brien Annaguey LLP and is based in Washington, D.C. The firm's site states that as counsel to Mr. Trump "he managed and led legal strategy on matters throughout the Administration and provided counsel on issues of highest national importance in the federal government."

He attended University of Chicago Law School, where he was managing editor of the Chicago Law Review, as well as Fordham University.

He has worked for several legal firms and has served as counsel in many types of cases, including class actions, significant investigations, constitutional cases and campaign finance, according to the firm.

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