Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone has been subpoenaed by the Justice Department in an investigation increasingly involving former President Trump’s closest advisers, according to reports from multiple news outlets.
The subpoena comes as the Justice Department has been bringing other White House officials before a grand jury in its probe into Jan. 6.
Cipollone would be able to offer considerable insight into actions at the White House both leading up to and on Jan. 6. His testimony before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack indicates he had numerous concerns about the former president’s plans for the day and how he responded to the riot.
The Justice Department has already brought two former advisers to then-Vice President Mike Pence before a grand jury.
He has also executed search warrants on Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department assistant attorney general who Trump weighed installing as attorney general so he could forward investigations into the president’s baseless claims of election fraud, along with John Eastman. Eastman, a former law professor, crafted memos for the campaign advising they submit alternate electoral certificates and that Pence buck his ceremonial duty to certify the election results.
According to ABC News, which first reported the subpoena, Cipollone’s attorney is expected to negotiate his appearance, given the former White House counsel’s concerns around executive privilege.
An attorney for Cipollone did not respond to a request for comment and the Justice Department also declined comment.
“This is probably bad for forming President Trump. If he goes in front of the grand jury, it shows that this is more than, you know, what did John Eastman do? The attorney that basically came up with that crazy scheme to overturn the election. And it probably has a very deep interest in what the president did,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said in an appearance on CNN’s “New Day” on Wednesday morning.
“The Justice Department knows better what they can, in essence, get around when it comes to saying executive privilege. And so I hope they go at that judiciously. I hope Pat Cipollone actually just tells the truth. I have no doubt that he hasn’t, but there’s no reason to protect particularly criminal behavior or what could potentially be criminal behavior behind executive privilege,” he added.
Jan. 6 Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told reporters last month that DOJ had asked for transcripts with the panel’s investigators tied to Trump’s plans to transmit fake elector certificates committee to Congress.
But the interest in Cipollone suggests the probe could be more wide ranging, especially following reporting by The New York Times indicating that federal prosecutors are beginning to more seriously discuss directly investigating Trump’s actions.
Earlier testimony before the House Jan. 6 committee indicated Cipollone pushed back against a plan to issue an executive order allowing the seizing of voting machines.
According to testimony from White House aide Cassidy Hutchison, he also expressed legal concerns over Trump’s plans to march to the Capitol, warning they could be charged with “every crime imaginable.”
And in a portion of his taped deposition played in the committee’s final hearing of the summer, Cipollone was also shown saying he pushed Trump to call off the mob if his supporters storming the Capitol.
“There needed to be an immediate and forceful … public statement that people need to leave the Capitol now,” Cipollone said.
–-Updated at 11:56 am