Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone has been subpoenaed by a grand jury investigating events surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the U.S. Capitol, according to multiple reports Tuesday evening.
Cipollone, who served under former President Donald Trump, is the highest-ranking official who was in the West Wing in the waning days of Trump’s presidency. He was in the White House as the president’s supporters stormed the Capitol and was in attendance as Trump and his allies discussed ways he could stay in office and overturn the results of the 2020 election — which Trump lost to Joe Biden — in the weeks before the insurrection.
Cipollone pushed back against those efforts.
ABC News first reported news of the subpoena, although it’s unclear which grand jury Cipollone will be called before. There are currently at least two convened on the Jan. 6 events, one probing a plan by Trump’s attorneys to put forward a slate of fake electors to declare him the winner of the 2020 race, and another homing in on the events on Jan. 6 itself.
The New York Times, citing a source familiar with the subpoena, added that it’s unclear how much information he could provide about the final days of Trump’s presidency. During testimony before the House select committee into the Jan. 6 riot, he regularly cited attorney-client or executive privilege, although he did stress that he believed the president should have called off his supporters as they stormed the halls of Congress.
“I think I was pretty clear there needed to be an immediate and forceful response, statement, public statement, that people need to leave the Capitol now,” he testified to lawmakers.
The subpoena comes just a week after two other top White House aides were called before a grand jury: Marc Short, who served for nearly two years as Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, and Greg Jacob, who served as Pence’s counsel.
The moves reflect a rapid uptick in the Justice Department’s effort to understand Trump’s efforts to remain in power.
The Washington Post reported last week that Justice Department prosecutors have asked witnesses detailed questions about Trump’s behavior and the meetings he held to seek a way to overturn the election, including what instructions the president gave his attorneys. Prosecutors have also reviewed phone records of senior Trump aides, including those of the president’s last chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
The Justice Department inquiry could pose severe legal peril for Trump as the agency has the power to levy criminal charges against him, unlike the House select committee’s proceedings.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said last week the agency would hold anyone “criminally responsible for interfering with the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another.”
No former U.S. president has been charged with a crime.