Ex-White House lawyer spoke of ‘Trump’s supreme dereliction of duty’

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The House Jan. 6 committee Saturday issued a statement describing the input of an ex-White House lawyer as “reinforcing” alleged misconduct by former President Donald Trump.

The idea that the former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone might have confirmed other witnesses’ damning accounts in his much-anticipated private interview Friday was initially tempered by the possibility that he may have invoked executive privilege, a legal concept intended to allow presidents to speak freely with legal advisers.

Responding to multiple reports that Cipollone had invoked that privilege during his daylong testimony under subpoena, a committee spokesman suggested a different storyline.

“In our interview with Mr. Cipollone, the Committee received critical testimony on nearly every major topic in its investigation, reinforcing key points regarding Donald Trump’s misconduct and providing highly relevant new information that will play a central role in its upcoming hearings,” the statement from House Select Committee spokesman Tim Mulvey read.

It continued: “This includes information demonstrating Donald Trump’s supreme dereliction of duty.”

Trump and his representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Saturday.

In an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” which aired Sunday, Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., a member of the committee, said that Cipollone “claimed privilege on conversations that related to the advice he provided directly to the president or conversations with the president.”

The committee “still got a lot of relevant information from him, and it provides us another perspective on what was happening in the White House in those weeks running up to January 6th that were so critically important,” she said.

Cipollone spoke to the committee about his “concerns” and “reservations” about Trump’s actions, including his unease with the then-president’s rally speech on Jan. 6, 2021, Murphy added.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., one of the two Republicans on the committee, said Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week” that the public would learn more about what Cipollone said to the committee during the deposition, which lasted eight hours, in the two televised hearings scheduled for later this week.

Mulvey said Cipollone was never guided by the panel to avoid potentially privileged information. His statement suggests that in Cipollone, the committee got another voice to back up some of the vivid testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, assistant to former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

She testified that on Jan. 6, Trump was filled with rage and ordered his Secret Service detail to take him to the Capitol so he could join supporters who would eventually enter the complex and attack police while trying to reach lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence, all participating in certifying Trump’s loss.

She said Secret Service agents in a presidential SUV with Trump refused to take him, and the president lunged for the steering wheel from behind the front seats and then tried to grab the throat of one agent, claims Trump has denied.

She also testified that Trump showed no sympathy for Pence as the rioters were getting potentially life-threateningly close to the vice president and Trump allegedly had the time and the power to call them off. The former president has denied this as well.

On Saturday Mulvey said in the committee’s statement that Cipollone “corroborated key elements of Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony.”

The Jan. 6 committee will resume with fact finding during a hearing Tuesday.

Julia Jester contributed.



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Debbie A. Cunningham

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