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Jan. 6 Panel Questions Cipollone on Pardons and Trump’s Election Claims


WASHINGTON — Pat A. Cipollone, who served as White House counsel for President Donald J. Trump, was asked detailed questions on Friday about pardons, false election fraud claims and the previous president’s pressure campaign against Vice President Mike Pence, in line with three people acquainted with his testimony before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The panel didn’t press him to either corroborate or contradict the main points of explosive testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide who captivated the country late last month together with her account of an out-of-control president willing to embrace violence and stop at nothing to remain in power, the people said.

During a roughly eight-hour interview conducted behind closed doors within the O’Neill House Office Constructing, the panel covered a number of the same ground it did during a casual interview with Mr. Cipollone in April. Within the session on Friday, which took place only after Mr. Cipollone was served with a subpoena, investigators focused mainly on Mr. Cipollone’s views on the events of Jan. 6 and usually didn’t ask about his views of other witnesses’ accounts.

One person acquainted with Mr. Cipollone’s testimony said he provided latest information that helped underscore the committee’s view that Mr. Trump was derelict in his duties on Jan. 6. Mr. Cipollone fought against essentially the most extreme plans to overturn the 2020 election, in line with multiple witnesses.

Mr. Cipollone, who has long held that his direct conversations with Mr. Trump are protected by executive privilege and attorney-client privilege, invoked certain privileges in declining to reply a number of the committee’s questions.

Key Revelations From the Jan. 6 Hearings

The panel recorded Mr. Cipollone on video with potential plans to make use of clips of his testimony at upcoming hearings. Aides have begun strategizing about whether and where to regulate scripts to incorporate key clips, one person said. The following hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

Within the interview, Mr. Cipollone was asked about Mr. Trump’s false claims of a stolen election. The panel has asked similar questions of top Justice Department officials, White House lawyers and Trump campaign officials, who’ve testified that they didn’t agree with the trouble to overturn the 2020 election.

Mr. Cipollone also broke with Mr. Trump in response to questions on the previous president’s pressure campaign against Mr. Pence, which included personal meetings, a profane phone call and even a post on Twitter attacking the vp as rioters stormed the Capitol pledging to hold him, people acquainted with the testimony said.

Mr. Cipollone’s agreement to sit down for an interview before the panel had prompted speculation that his testimony could either buttress or contradict the account of Ms. Hutchinson, who attributed a number of the most damning statements about Mr. Trump’s behavior to Mr. Cipollone. As an example, she testified that Mr. Cipollone told her on the morning of Jan. 6 that Mr. Trump’s plan to accompany the mob to the Capitol would cause Trump officials to be “charged with every crime possible.”

Two people acquainted with Mr. Cipollone’s actions that day said he didn’t recall making that comment to Ms. Hutchinson. Those people said the committee was made aware before the interview that Mr. Cipollone wouldn’t confirm that conversation were he to be asked. He was not asked about that specific statement on Friday, in line with people acquainted with the questions.

“Why are Pat Cipollone & his lawyers letting the J6 Committee get away with suborning Cassidy Hutchinson’s perjury?” Mr. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., who has also testified before the panel, wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “Only cowards let the Left bully them into sitting quietly as an alternative of speaking up and telling the reality. Stop hiding on background, Pat. Grow a spine & go on record.”

Mr. Cipollone was asked, nevertheless, about conversations by which presidential pardons were discussed.

Ms. Hutchinson has testified that on Jan. 7, the day after the assault on the Capitol, Mr. Trump desired to promise pardons for those involved within the attack, but Mr. Cipollone argued to remove language making such a promise from remarks that the president was to deliver.

She has also testified that members of Congress and others near Mr. Trump sought pardons after the violence of Jan. 6.

An adviser to Mr. Cipollone declined to comment on his appearance before the panel.

“He was candid with the committee,” Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California and a member of the panel, said on CNN on Friday. “He was careful in his answers, and I feel that he was honest in his answers.”

She added, “We gained some additional insight into the actual day, Jan. 6.”

Ms. Lofgren said Mr. Cipollone didn’t contradict other witnesses. “There have been things that he won’t be present for or in some cases couldn’t recall with precision,” she said.

Mr. Cipollone’s testimony got here after he reached a deal to testify before the panel, which had pressed him for weeks to cooperate and issued him a subpoena last month.

Mr. Cipollone was a witness to key moments in Mr. Trump’s push to overturn the election results, including discussions about sending false letters to state officials about election fraud and seizing voting machines. He was also in direct contact with Mr. Trump on Jan. 6 as rioters stormed the Capitol.

Mr. Trump has railed against Mr. Cipollone’s cooperation. On Thursday, he posted on his social media platform, Truth Social: “Why would a future President of the USA need to have candid and vital conversations together with his White House Counsel if he thought there was even a small probability that this person, essentially acting as a ‘lawyer’ for the Country, may someday be brought before a partisan and openly hostile Committee in Congress.”

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