Two Trump White House lawyers meet with January 6 investigators
Two of former President Donald J. Trump’s top White House lawyers met with the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol on Wednesday, after Trump cleared them for dialogue with the panel, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Pat A. Cipollone, the former White House attorney, and Patrick F. Philbin, who was his deputy, met separately with the panel, two people familiar with the sessions said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to divulge the meetings.
It was not immediately clear how much information Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Philbin provided to the committee or what they said, but they were present at key times in the build-up to the January 6 Capitol takeover. 2021, including conversations and meetings in which Mr. Trump discussed using the powers of his office to try to overturn the election.
Their cooperation, which was reported earlier by Politico, added to the more than two dozen White House officials who agreed to answer questions from the committee.
The pair were not under oath and their interviews were not transcribed, but the men could return for formal interviews or deposition later, one of the people said, describing it as a typical process, as investigators determine who they want to interview.
The talks came as the committee learned from the National Archives that lawmakers would receive additional White House documents from Trump after President Biden refused to assert executive privilege over them.
In a Wednesday letter, David S. Ferriero, the National Archivist, told Mr. Trump he would deliver a new set of documents to the committee within 15 days “unless prohibited by court order.” Mr Trump wrote to the archives in February to say he was asserting executive privilege over more than 1,000 documents in his possession.
In recent days, the committee interviewed Mr. Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, both former White House advisers. In transcribed interviews, they provided testimony that lawmakers called “helpful.”
Mr Trump told the Washington Post he had offered his daughter and son-in-law a “privilege”, but they refused. The courts have denied Mr. Trump’s claims for executive privilege, and the White House Biden has refused to invoke him for documents and witnesses sought by the January 6 inquiry, including for the testimony of Mrs. Trump and Mr Kushner.
The panel also heard from John McEntee, who served as Mr. Trump’s presidential chief of staff; Anthony M. Ornato, the former chief operating officer of the White House; and Eric Herschmann, a White House attorney. Another senior adviser, Stephen Miller, was due to testify on Thursday, according to another person familiar with the matter, who also spoke on condition of anonymity.
Mr Miller was subpoenaed late last year and had lengthy negotiations to appear.
Mr. Cipollone, who defended Mr. Trump in his first impeachment trial, pushed back against some of the more extreme plans the president considered to void the election. He participated in meetings with Trump allies who lobbied for the military to seize voting machines and in which Attorney General William P. Barr offered his resignation after making it clear that the Justice Department did not found no widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
Mr. Cipollone also tried to persuade Mr. Trump to stop pursuing baseless fraud allegations. He was hesitant to pursue a plan proposed by Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department lawyer, who had wanted to distribute official letters to several state legislatures falsely alerting them that the election could have been stolen and urging them to reconsider. certified results.
“This letter that this guy wants to send – this letter is a murder-suicide pact,” Mr. Cipollone told Mr. Trump, according to testimony received by the panel. “It will damage anyone who touches it. And we should have nothing to do with this letter. I never want to see this letter again.
Mr. Philbin, who was a senior Justice Department attorney under President George W. Bush, was also present at the meeting at which Mr. Barr offered his resignation.
The Supreme Court ordered the National Archives to turn over to the committee Mr. Philbin’s White House records, which include a memo about a possible multi-state lawsuit that Mr. Biden won in the 2020 election. They contain also a series of emails from a state official regarding election-related matters and talking points about alleged election irregularities in a Michigan county.
And they include a plan pushed by Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser, and attorney Sidney Powell to declare there was foreign influence in the election, in a bid to allow Mr. Trump to use the powers of the Department of Defense to seize the voting machines and have the votes recounted.