Pat Cipollone Wants Trump to Know He’s Still Protecting Him

ABC got the scoop yesterday that Pat Cipollone has been subpoenaed in the January 6 investigation. Remember: under grand jury secrecy rules, only the recipient can share details of a subpoena (or, if the FBI delivers it, their neighbors).

Which is why I’m interested that the ABC story makes it clear that Cipollone’s lawyers “are expected to engage in negotiations around any appearance.”

A federal grand jury has subpoenaed former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone in its investigation into the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol and efforts to overturn the 2020 election, sources with direct knowledge of the matter told ABC News.

The sources told ABC News that attorneys for Cipollone — like they did with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — are expected to engage in negotiations around any appearance, while weighing concerns regarding potential claims of executive privilege.

This confirms a point I made yesterday: Cipollone is no more a reliable witness than nutjob Sidney Powell or nutjob Rudy Giuliani.

That’s because he is using frivolous Executive Privilege claims — made even after the Supreme Court ruled that Trump doesn’t have privilege here, and made by the White House Counsel, not the President’s own lawyer — to avoid disclosing the content of things he said directly to the President.

And there’s no reason for a buttoned down lawyer like Cipollone to reveal his grand jury testimony, along with claims he’s going to sustain his frivolous privilege claims, unless he wants to reassure Trump.

I keep suggesting that Cipollone may know he has his own exposure. He would have been involved in all the pardons Trump gave save, perhaps, Steve Bannon’s last minute one. And there’s good reason to believe those pardons included quid pro quos that bought cooperation in the insurrection.

147 replies
  1. Carl says:

    He might want to talk to John Dean about consequences.

    [Welcome to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “Carl” or “Karl.” Thanks. /~Rayne]

  2. JVO says:

    My first thought is that Pat leaked it to protect himself so he doesn’t fall down some stairs before his appearance.

    • John B. says:

      Ha! In the J6 interviews shown during the hearings, Cippolone appears to my eye to want to have it both ways: 1) appear to be cooperating with the panel and to appear that he wants to say more, and in fact does use significant body language to appear to say more while at the same time 2) hide behind EP to not divulge what he and TFG discussed and what his advice was during the planning of the various parts of the coup. He is slippery and not a decent fellow imo.

      • bmaz says:

        ANY halfway decent attorney and former White House Counsel would have done exactly the same thing. I was shocked Cipollone was as forthcoming as he was to the Committee.

        • Silly but True says:

          News reports confirm that Cipollone in fact asserted executive privilege to the Jan. 6 cmte. testimony, particularly with respect to Trump’s opinion of crowd threats to “hang Mike Pence,” and perhaps also to discussion with POTUS on pardons, and the Jan. 6 Cmte. has yet to refer Cipollone to DoJ for contempt of its subpoena. It’s more likely that Jan. 6 Cmte. will never force the issue to push Cipollone on those questions. Cipollone is also likely to try the same tact with federal grand jury and it likely will force the issue, regardless of how long it may take.

          At this “emergent” point in the evolving history of Presidential Executive Privilege assertions, Cipollone is right to try, Jan. 6 is probably right to not force matter through their venue (which may cease before it ever gets adjudicated), and any federal prosecutor will be right to test any limits with respect to grand jury.

          The current prevailing standard to resolve Cipollone’s position has been through political negotiation.

          US v Nixon remains the most viable model, as that directly considered grand jury act with respect to federal (special) prosecutor as is currently case with Cipollone. SCOTUS held that Executive Privilege is a Constitutional not statutory creation based on the “the valid need for protection of communications between high Government officials and those who advise and assist them in the performance of their manifold duties.” There is no timeline/temporal test in Nixon; that is, it’s only been lower courts, not SCOTUS who have accommodated an idea that such valid need might cease once POTUS term ends.

          This idea of how long any Constitutional privilege might extend remains a very much untested feature of privilege fights, and Cipollone might fight this question all the way to SCOTUS.

          • jasper says:

            If Cipollone knew that Trump was planning or or participating in an illegal coup attempt, don’t any privilege claims go out the window the second he realized that? I guess I don’t understand the theory that attorney-client, executive, or whatever other privilege you want to name would stand up against that kind of sedition.

            I do of course understand politically why it’s been handled like that by the Jan 6 committee and others, I guess I just don’t understand how that could be a legal conclusion, that Cipollone ultimately has a right to refuse to divulge basically anything related to Trumps’ participation in Jan 6.

          • timbo says:

            Is PC right to try these tactics though? Seems to me if he and the President were on the up and up throughout this that he wouldn’t have to assert these privileges at all. And that if it comes out that these tactics delayed investigations and justice then, well, PC et all are in for a world more of hurt…if Twitler and his supporters can’t get back into Executive Power. Thus the slow-walking testimony by frivolous assertions of EP continue…

            • jasper says:

              Agreed – it’s strange how so many commentators accept without question these massive overestimates of the limits of executive immunity.

              What is the level of crime that Trump would have to attempt or commit in front of WH counsel for them to have to turn him in to somebody, immediately? Whatever you think it is, why on earth would you assume Cipollone didn’t witness it? He’s in CYA mode – he’s only pleading EP instead of the fifth because he knows it won’t be questioned (at this point).

              • bmaz says:

                Oh, you decided this was a good place to hop in today, Mr. 4 comments?

                “…he’s only pleading EP instead of the fifth because he knows it won’t be questioned (at this point).”

                You are talking out your rear end. Please do not do that here, you are very much in the wrong place for that.

              • Rayne says:

                I had to go back and re-read this because of the way in which you’ve doubled down.

                You do recall who the highest law enforcement official was up to December 23, yes? You do recall what that official did after reading the Special Counsel’s report which implicated Trump in both conspiracy and obstruction, based on an investigation which referred to Trump in indictments as Individual-1? You believe a political appointee would report a non-crime of dereliction of duty or abuse of office to that same top law enforcement official?

                And yes, Cipollone is claiming executive privilege with regard to direct discussions with the then-executive because his job had been White House Counsel serving the executive branch — and the claim buys time for the next move whether his or the House J6 or DOJ.

                Slow your roll. You act like the folks here haven’t been doing this since before Patrick Fitzgerald was named Special Counsel.

                • Jasper says:

                  You seem to have skipped the period between Biden’s inauguration and these subpoenas. Instead you focused on the very short amount of time between Barr leaving and the new admin.

                  Again, I’m not doubling down on anything, I’m asking an extremely simple question – at what level of criminality does the WH counsel have a responsibility to inform whoever they can, when they can? You’re saying the answer is, there is none?

                  > Cipollone is claiming executive privilege with regard to direct discussions with the then-executive because his job had been White House Counsel serving the executive branch

                  If Cipollone was aware of Trump’s participation in the coup plot at the time (or even if he has since realized it was criminal), then none of these privileges apply to information about Trump’s participation in the coup plot, and he should understand that, regardless of what he’s doing to cover his ass or what the J6 committee is doing politically. Do you disagree with that?

                  • Rayne says:

                    Get your head out of your butt, seriously. Barr’s replacement Rosen threatened to walk out. That’s the extent to which he was willing to do something about Trump’s actions — and perhaps all he believed he was able to do given the dearth of time remaining in Trump’s term and OIG’s memo about indicting a seated president (remember that from the Special Counsel’s investigation?). Again, why would a political appointee — now days away from being out of the job — report dereliction of duty and abuse of office to Barr’s replacement?

                    If the bloody cabinet members and Pence weren’t all corrupt, they would have gone 25th Amendment on Trump.

                    If the corrupt GOP Senators put country above party and their personal fears, they would have convicted Trump instead of giving him a pass after the House impeached him.

                    The only remaining solution is what you see right now before you, the same approach taken in 1973-1974 when another executive committed abuses of office and was nearly impeached. Except this time the DOJ will likely go all the way to indictment.

                    • jasper says:

                      When was Rosen gone again? How many days after the insurrection was the transfer?

                      Again, I’m just trying to be clear about what you’re saying – you’re saying that there’s *nothing* the president could have been doing, criminally, that Cipollone would then have a legal obligation to report, at least as early as he could? And why do people think knowledge of criminality isn’t enough to remove these privileges?

                      It is truly strange how hostile the commenters are here to people asking questions. What is silly about my questions?

                    • Rayne says:

                      I’m not here to do your homework. In fact I’m done with you because you are now engaging in a form of trolling called “sealioning.”

                      When you think you have a better solution to the problem you can’t clearly articulate — besides “Something was wrong and somebody should have done something” — contact your representative and senators and insist on them fixing the problem.

                    • strangeways says:

                      Pat Cipollone had a year and a half to come forward with any of this. He didn’t, to his eternal shame.

                      The idea that lawyers can sit idly by as that stuff goes on just bc they’re white house lawyers is incorrect. And neither do any privileges apply.

                      [Nice try, jasper, but sockpuppeting doesn’t fly here. Have a nice life. /~Rayne]

                    • jasper says:

                      I’m not asking you to do any research, Jeff Rosen was gone two weeks after the insurrection.

                      And I’ve articulated my solution – Cipollone and all of these other traitors ought to have reported this stuff to whomever they could as soon as possible. Again, I don’t understand why you disagree with that.

                      [“I’m not asking you to do any research.” And yet you asked, “When was Rosen gone again? How many days after the insurrection was the transfer?” Bye, sealion. / ~Rayne]

            • bmaz says:

              You are totally recklessly out of control, get a grip, and slow your roll. Getting borderline bonkers.

            • Silly but True says:

              Not necessarily. People like Cipollone who might tend towards “Executive Office of the White House” jobs might just simply hold an opinion that preserving strong Executive is a Constitutional feature or protection of democracy under the Constitutional separation-of-powers structure. That is, he might just be all in for preserving strong Executive Privilege because SCOTUS determined that Executive Privilege stems from a Constitutional power.

              I have no idea where Cipollone actually falls, and he doesn’t necessarily have to be all in for any sort of unitary Executive theory, but it’s not all that a strange position for White House Counsel to hold that “privileged advice to WH may be privileged.”

    • J says:

      If Cipollone was concerned about his own exposure…would he not be an ideal candidate for immunity?

      On one hand, he leaked it, but it would be wise for all involved to avoid trump’s wrath as long as possible.

      [Welcome to emptywheel. Please use a longer and more differentiated username when you comment. It’s difficult for community members to get to know and recognize you based on a single-letter username. Thanks. /~Rayne]

      • bmaz says:

        He might be a candidate for immunity….if he even needs it. I am not sure he does in the least.

  3. joberly says:

    EW writes of White House Counsel Cipollone and some of the presidential pardons: “And there’s good reason to believe those pardons included quid pro quos that bought cooperation in the insurrection.” Ok, I wonder which pardons might have fit the quid pro quo bill. The Justice Department records Trumps’s pardons at Here’s my list of people who received pardons in 2020-21 and who are tied to the insurrection: Bernard Kerik (pardoned Feb 18, 2020); Michael T. Flynn (pardoned Nov 25, 2020); Roger Stone (pardoned Dec 23, 2020); Paul Manafort (pardoned Dec 23, 2020); Stephen Bannon (pardoned Jan 19, 2021). Kerik’s pardon came shortly after the first impeachment acquittal so that one does not fit a dangle for insurrection-plotting later in 2020-21. The Flynn pardon was pre-Dec 18 Oval Office meeting with Team Crazy, so again, the timing of the quid pro quo does not fit. In fact, Flynn’s pardon came the day after the Trump campaign repudiated Flynn’s lawyer, Sidney Powell. That leaves the Stone & Manafort pardons on Dec 23rd, although I am unsure how Manafort’s pardon was connected to the insurrection.
    I say it was the Stone pardon that may have place Cipollone in what EW calls “exposure,” but I also see the possible dangle to Bannon (think of those two phone calls on the morning of Jan 6) that was rewarded with a Jan. 19 pardon of his vet-scamming wire fraud conviction.

    • Ravenclaw says:

      Why do you assume that the January 6th coup attempt is the ONLY basis for a quid pro quo pardon? That entire presidency was shot through with extremely suspicious activities as far back as the 2016 election & transition, and the folks you name (Flynn, Manafort, Stone, Bannon) were involved in multiple schemes that might be deemed criminal (in some cases leading to convictions) – and that undoubtedly involved TFG.

      • bmaz says:

        A president has unencumbered plenary power to pardon anybody and for any reason he wants. It does not matter if others don’t like it. I guess you could attempt am obstruction or conspiracy to commit bribery charge, still unclear that either would work. Would those be impeachable offenses, of course. But would DOJ file on them now, very hard to envision.

        • Ravenclaw says:

          No argument! I was just responding to what seemed like an implication, in the first post on the thread, that there could not have been a quid pro quo in most of these cases because (a) the timing was too soon for the insurrection or (b) the person in question wasn’t obviously involved in that particular conspiracy.

        • timbo says:

          However, if it seems reasonably likely to be the case, they should file them. Else we have created a special class of person who is above the law apparently.

          • bmaz says:

            You are seriously full of shit. You are every bit as bad as the Trumpers who want to arrest Fauci. For the love of gawd, do not do this shit. Seriously, stop. These issues are NOT about your little fee fees, quit thinking they are.

              • bmaz says:

                If you don’t like it, sorry, find another place. Today has been nothing but a non-stop deluge of “first time commenters” asking the same garbage over and over and over. There are only a couple of us here to police this horse manure, and if you don’t like it, don’t deposit your horse manure on this blog. We seriously do not have time or patience for it. If you think that is “abuse” you are in the wrong place.

                • jasper says:

                  Wait a minute, *you’re* in charge of the moderation here? Explains a lot about how you talk to people lol.

                  [Do you really want to go there? Because harassing moderators isn’t going to fly here. You’ve already pushed it in the meager 7 comments you’ve left at this site, all today. / ~Rayne]

                    • pittsteveoh says:

                      hehe….at least I got an education on “sealioning” by Rayne in the process, so the numb ass was not a total loss.

                      [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. This is your second user name; the first and last time you commented in January 2021 was under username “steve oh.” Stick to your current name here on forward. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • Coffae says:

      A more specific site for President Trump Pardons/Clemency:

      It may be of some interest comparing the two presidents, President Trump and President Biden, the pardons and commutations are very different both by crime type (President Biden = small drug kilogram sized offenses; President Trump = murder, conspiracy and racketeering and large drug Kilo sized offenses.)

    • Micah says:

      There seems to be two different factions in Trumpworld: the Bannon/Navarro faction likely funded by Mercer, and the Pence/Jacobs faction tied to the Koch network. Both wanted to overturn the election, but the Pence faction appears to only wanted to do it if they could get state support. Cippiloni seems to be on team Pence, but all likely have some legal exposure.

  4. BobCon says:

    “there’s good reason to believe those pardons included quid pro quos that bought cooperation in the insurrection.”

    Another obvious question is whether Cipollone was involved in pardons, commutations, or just bids with quid pro quos that weren’t connected to the insurrection. If he’s at risk for connection to any dodgy pardon deal, Trump can use that to squeeze him on a whole range of issues.

  5. ThomasH says:

    Would it be a stretch to also think individuals like Cippolone signaling to trump that they’re protecting him is also a form of *keeping their powder dry* in the event of a second trump reign?

    • bmaz says:

      This constant refrain that Cipollone is “protecting Trump” is simply asinine. He is conducting himself as any decent lawyer in his posture would. Jesus, does anybody here have a clue what lawyers do? He is protecting the office of WHC and himself, not Trump.

      • Rugger9 says:

        I am not sure why Cipollone thinks he can negotiate the questions that DoJ will be allowed to ask. He was subpoenaed, not ‘invited’ plus as noted in the post it’s already clear the EP gambit is a non-starter. It (realistically) rests on AG Garland to decide how much scope his investigators will have. If it were up to me, no quarter.

        Since this questioning is within a grand jury session as well, no one will know for sure what was asked and how it was answered. Although, I would expect Individual-1 and his minions will pull out any and all stops to find out.

        • bmaz says:

          He sure as hell has a right to try, and if the requests are reasonable, it is in Garland’s interest to reach an agreement as opposed to litigating forever a contempt citation.

        • Peterr says:

          My understanding is that the J6 committee negotiated with Cipollone on the questions they asked, or at least they agreed not to push back hard in the moment on questions Cipollone might claim privilege in order to get him to talk about other stuff right now. That is, the J6 committee reserved the right to fight over those other questions later, so that they could hear from him ASAP on the things that confirm relevant parts of Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony.

      • Badger Robert says:

        The grand jury venue should be a better setting to litigate the claims of executive privilege than the Committee investigation. And I think attorney Cipollone knows he has exposure based on the prior limit that even former AG Barr described as corrupt. Cipollone is the John Dean of this scandal.

        • bmaz says:

          I don’t think it has been established that Cipollone has criminal exposure at all. It is, of course, possible, but nowhere near being obvious. Analogizing him to John Dean is ludicrous. Dean is a fucking weasel who immediately turned into a snitch to save his own ass and has been making bank off of it ever since. Cipollone has gone about this carefully and appropriately so far. Did you ever hear Cipollone invoke the 5th in the J6 hearing? I didn’t. And immunity from the Committee itself is not worth spit. Even if he thinks he does have exposure, the DOJ is where to work it out. People are just stupidly foaming at the mouth on this bases on their little own thoughts, not logic and legal process. And it is tiring.

          • Rugger9 says:

            So, we wait for what is produced by the GJ, since we will not know the Q&A (derived from any deals) until something emerges either tied to Cipollone directly or as supporting evidence for an indictment of someone else.

            As for immunity from the J6SC I don’t recall that they offered it to Cipollone either. FWIW we do have the example of Ollie North leveraging his immunity from the Iran Contra committee into a get-out-of-jail-free card, so I would suspect that if immunity was offered it would have some effect.

            • bmaz says:

              Committee immunity isn’t worth shit unless the DOJ and court signs off on it. This is not the day of Iran Contra.

              • obsessed says:

                Committee immunity isn’t worth shit unless the DOJ and court signs off on it. This is not the day of Iran Contra.>

                Whoa. That’s the first time I’ve heard that. What changed since Ollie North? The law or a DOJ memo or …?

                • Silly but True says:

                  Nothing’s changed; it’s just been a feature inherent within the case law, primarily associated with “Kastigar” and “Rinaldi” of testimonial immunity itself, but cemented in form still used today in North. The prosecutorial track record is _not good._

                  Let’s start with North; Congress never intended to grant North immunity from prosecution, and so North was granted “use immunity” from his testimony, was then indicted, convicted and sentenced but appealed that his prosecution was based on information provided from his testimony. His conviction was dismissed, and it became all but impossible to prosecute North independent from any facts that he gave testimony on, as he was the central lynchpin in charge of the whole operation that he testified about.

                  But we don’t stop here. The next infamous one is US v Slough et. al. — the “Nisur Square” Blackwater massacre where all charges against the five defendants were dismissed because some of the evidence was obtained from immunized grand jury testimony of two of the defendants. Note, this did not stand up to government’s initial appeal of that opinion, but did still effectively stand up on remand as the appellate order to review each individual separately still essentially gutted the case.

                  The standard is the one established in North: “In building a case against a defendant who received use immunity for his statements, the government must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that ‘all of the evidence it proposes to use was derived from legitimate independent sources.'”

                  Either you want to know what happened, or you want to prosecute what you can prove. Any time the government has immunized to know fully what happened, it’s not been possible (or sufficiently rigorous) in building a cased using _ALL_ of its evidence that has been derived from sources independent of the immunized information.

                  If you think a guy committed a criminal act that you want prosecuted, don’t immunize him, unless you’ve independently built a case separate from the immunity and tested it through courts. If you care more about knowing what happened than prosecuting, for purpose of say improving existing laws, then by all means immunize, get the full story, and do what needs to be done so it never happens again. But don’t try to do both; the prosecution is likely to get blown up.

                  • bmaz says:

                    As I recall, in Nisour it was Garrity statements more than immunized GJ testimony. As to North, the cockup in that case forever changed how Congress And DOJ handle these things.

                    • Silly but True says:

                      Yeah, you may be right as there was that secret indemnification agreement. I still can’t claim to understand how some Pentagon magic wand manifested Garrity rights onto a Blackwater — a private, for-profit commercial mercenary venture — employee operating on contracted basis to the US government. But that was certainly an issue there.

                • grennan says:

                  In the first team-building get-together they may have gone through a “Let’s not make these mistakes” powerpoint, or the blooper reel of unintended consequences.

          • timbo says:

            It’s very possible tho that his EP claims are covering up a crime that he participated in and/or failed to report. We’ll see what happens if and when he’s compelled to testify truthfully about things he is claiming are covered by EP and/or ATCP.

            • bmaz says:

              Is there any goofy wild speculation you will NOT speciously engage in, or is that just what you got?

            • Rayne says:

              Look, you need to cite evidence or admit you’re just speculating, and then take a chill pill. Cipollone has already sat for 7 hours with the House J6 Committee and I’m sure he knows his exposures just as the Committee does. He pointedly said to them, “…you know” just before claiming executive privilege at one point.

      • ThomasH says:

        “Protecting Trump” is in the title of this post! I’m a retired healthcare worker and mediocre cartoonist and have never been in a courtroom, so, yes(!) I don’t know all the nuances of the legal system and lawyer practice. That’s part of the reason I follow Emptywheel; to learn for the best!

        Wishing you all the best from Bisbee!

        • bmaz says:

          Well, be that as it may, and his actions may, as a collateral effect, serve to protect Trump for the time being, I very much doubt that is his real motivation. Also, Bisbee! Very cool. Truly love Bisbee, and still want to spend a night next time there at the Shady Dell instead of the nice hotel downtown.

          • cmarlowe says:

            Hey bmaz,
            Just after Cipollone’s J6 testimony with his EP claim with respect to his conversation with Trump, I asked if he could be compelled to testify as to that conversation in a DOJ grand jury setting. You replied “absolutely.” Reading through the current thread it seems that the answer may be more complicated. What do you think?

            • bmaz says:

              No, it is not. Get to the DOJ and have them go to court, (it goes to the Chief Judge) and have Beryl Howell rule on the claim or force DOJ to immunize you. But of course it can be compelled, and he is smart to force that process where it actually counts, which is not the Committee.

                  • obsessed says:

                    The book “Everything Trump Touches Dies” was written way too early. What’s an example of someone who worked for Trump and didn’t get screwed?

                  • Mattpete says:

                    He may be a great lawyer. He’ll be remembered as the guy that kept the secrets of the most disgraceful POTUS to date and it was easily foreseeable that he would end up there. I don’t find that smart.

                    • bmaz says:

                      If you were a lawyer, I would very much hope you would protect the office of the WHC and your own ass. To not do that would be beyond stupid. Would also make you a two bit snitch like John Dean.

                  • mattpete says:

                    “Would also make you a two bit snitch like John Dean.”

                    That’s my entire point. He applied for a job that had a high probability of him making a choice between being a two bit snitch and dirty. He’s trying to thread a very fine needle and will likely end up being considered both. Good lawyer though.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                Not necessarily. A lot of very smart people chose to work for George W. Bush to pursue their own agenda. Eugene Scalia, for example, Antonin’s son, worked for both Bush and Trump, pursuing his own extremely lucrative anti-labor agenda for his well-heeled corporate clients.

                Presidents are rarely (ever?) charismatic progressives, who seek to do good for the most people. Most of them are meal tickets for their followers.

                • Mattpete says:

                  Of course, but it was obvious that Trump was not most Presidents, thus making Cipollone’s current situation utterly foreseeable.

                  • earlofhuntingdon says:

                    Trump being a career-long clusterfuck, born with a golden rattle in his crib, does not make everything that happens obvious and foreseeable.

                    A year before it happened, most people would not have predicted the mob violence on January 6th, or the months of planning and coordination that preceded it.

                    • blueedredcounty says:

                      “Trump being a career-long clusterfuck, born with a golden rattle in his crib, does not make everything that happens obvious and foreseeable.”

                      EXAMPLE: The 2016 Election, a year before it happened.
                      Hell, if you had told me in 2015 that the Republican Primary debates would have included commentary on a candidate’s dick size, and that he would go on to be the party’s nominee and President, I would have wondered about an illicit substance abuse problem.

                    • blueedredcounty says:

                      EXAMPLE: The 2016 Election, a year before it happened.
                      Hell, if you had told me in 2015 that the Republican Primary debates would have included commentary on a candidate’s dick size, and that he would go on to be the party’s nominee and President, I would have wondered about an illicit substance abuse problem.

                    • Silly but True says:

                      People sometimes forget the outrageous and creative mudslinging of past candidates.

                      Thomas Jefferson’s campaign through newspaper publisher James Callender called John Adams a “hideous hermaphroditic creature.” This act got Callender sent to jail for sedition. When Jefferson didn’t pardon Callender when he became president, Callender became the first one responsible for publishing Jefferson’s connection to Sally Hemmings and Jefferson’s children through her.

                      In 1828, John Qunicy Adams’ campaign called Andew Jackson’s mom a hooker.

                      In 1866, Andrew Johnson said it was God Almighty’s will that Abraham Lincoln got whacked so that the right man could be in charge. Not really endearing himself, Johnson was later impeached.

          • Matt Peterson says:

            What do you think his motivation is for going public in the manner he did? I’d bet he’s one of many subpoenaed and seems to be one of few to go public in order to spin.

            • timbo says:

              It sure comes across as a big CYA moment, doesn’t it? Telegraph what you’re doing to others who might be part of a conspiracy. At a minimum, it certainly seems to be about getting media expose if nothing else.

      • AndTheSlithyToves says:


        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Hmmm…ATST, until you phrased the alternative that way (“think” v. “know”), I had been focused on Cipollone’s motivation for making the GJ testimony public (as it seems only he could have done). Now that you put it that way, I wonder if that is exactly the hidden content underlying the public signal–in other words, Cipollone wants Trump to “know” something that is not actually true, at least as interpreted in Trump’s favor.

  6. jeco says:

    This is his way to pander to his GOP clientele while not doing anything overtly illegal and losing his law lic. A team normal approach. He’s not going to join RUDY & Syd

    • timbo says:

      How do we know he hasn’t done anything illegal per se? Seems like whatever has happened/gone on will eventually come out. In the meantime, PC’s strategy is clear: delay as much as possible.

        • bmaz says:

          Because that is ridiculous. Do you have any clue as to ethical constraints on lawyers? The White House Counsel is not a mandatory reporter. This is true silly.

          • Habel says:

            You’re mistaken – he took an oath to defend the Constitution just like everybody else. And yes, that covers reporting the flagrant coup attempt of a criminal president. The idea that that obligation of his requires any kind of legal wrangling at all is a joke.

            Quit buying these criminals’ shoddy excuses.

            • bmaz says:

              I am not, and you are full of shit. You are very new here, but we do not allow people to blithely spew stupid and incorrect bunk. STOP. And screw you, do NOT tell any of the principals here what to do.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Your knowledge of the disclosure constraints on practicing lawyers would make you eligible to be a MAGA lawyer.

              • Tony Hodges says:

                What is the answer to the question, though? What ethics rules come above Cipollone’s oath to the Constitution?

                It’s weird that you assume everyone knows the answer, because I don’t think it’s as obvious as you’re acting like it is.

                Above, Bmaz elaborated (after locking the thread I guess):

                ethical constraints, protecting the institution of the WHC and to protect his own ass.

                And my question is – which of those come before his Constitutional oath? Certainly not the third one, so I’m not sure why it was included.

                • bmaz says:

                  Nobody here is your freaking research assistant, go do your “own research”. And, yes, the third one certainly could Abe if Cipollone thought he might have criminal exposure. Stop badgering us. And we can do that for you if you want5, but you are NIOT going to be allowed to keep bandying about stupiconclusions and speculation. STOP. Oh, and by the way, I did not “lock” diddly squat. You are either not very bright or are lying out your ass.

                  • Tony Hodges says:

                    Ah, the “do your own research” canard when you don’t have an answer.

                    The truth is, as you as and I know, none of these other obligations come before his oath to the Constitution. No research necessary! ; )

                    • bmaz says:

                      You are absolutely full of shit. Stop, or you are gone. I don’t have time for your ignorant bunk. Oh, I have answers, but your relentless demands make me not want to waste my time on you, and I won’t.

                    • Rayne says:

                      Seriously, stop. You’re a n00bie here but you only have a short period of time to develop any cred here when you can’t be bothered to note who it is you’re barking at — in bmaz’s case, you’re arguing with an attorney who is both a moderator and contributor here and knows something about an attorney’s obligation to his client and his own career.

                      If anybody hasn’t done their own research, it’s you. Slow your roll.

                      ADDER: Sharon Holto, that goes for you, too. Don’t expect to be able to comment here if that’s how you’re going to start.

  7. Randy Baker says:

    I don’t see how the subpoena of Cipollone reflects moving up the food chain from the folks storming Congress. Looks at lot more like follow up from what the 1/6 Committee did.

    • bmaz says:

      Lol, seriously?? A witness to most everything in the White House that was in critical meetings you think is no more valuable that a Capitol storming schlub? Again, seriously??

      • Ravenclaw says:

        I *think* what Randy was trying to say is that Cipollone doesn’t seem like a step up the ladder from the insurgents – i.e., not part of DOJ’s strategy of working their way up the food chain – that it seems more like DOJ is after him now because of the committee’s work. (I don’t have an opinion on that question – just offering my reading of his post.)

        • bmaz says:

          I think that is ridiculous. Of course he is a step up from the insurgent troops. You do conspiracies from the ground up and that is exactly what they have been doing.

          • Ravenclaw says:

            Fair enough! I guess the link just didn’t seem obvious to the poster given that the ‘boots on the ground’ and militia types who’ve been prosecuted so far are a few steps removed from WH counsel. (Yes, I realize that DOJ is investigating some of those intermediate players already! Getting from, say, Eastman or Giuliana to Cipollone is not a reach.)

  8. Randy Marks says:

    EW: “Cipollone is no more a reliable witness than nutjob Sidney Powell or nutjob Rudy Giuliani.”

    Although I agree with EW that the privilege claim is wacko, with respect, that statement is demonstrably wrong:
    –He appeared and said some really damaging things about Trump and didn’t contradict the damaging things that others quoted him as saying.
    –He has a grasp of reality.
    –He threatened to quit to stop the Jeff Clark promotion and did other things to constrain the wacko Trump at his worst.

    • Coffae says:

      Considering that the statement that Cipollone is “not a reliable witness” is indeed a viable statement because:
      – He represented The Trump White House, and thus his marching orders is to litigate in favor of his former boss.
      – His butt is on the line too whether he can be implicated or not. He has to walk on eggshells.
      – We are not hearing the whole story, and may never hear all of it.
      Thus looking at why Cipollone announced his subpoena and made purring noises to sooth an anxious, spiteful and vengeful former president, we cannot know what his motives and eventual plans entail. Most likely, he will not make things easy for Judge Howell. In this he may even be a worse witness than Powell or Giuliani (because, well you know, their reputations speak to their abilities.)

      • timbo says:

        Given how much many of these folks like to blab in books, it’s entirely likely that we’ll have more than one competing story line going forward. However, we will likely have a close approximation of what took place on given days and important events in the conspiracy by the time this is all said and done. Either that or Twitler (or someone worse) will be in power.

  9. Cosmo Le Cat says:

    Glenn Kirschner, a widely respected paragon of law (sarcasm font), just said that Cipollone should have followed the recent Supreme Court ruling on executive privilege, that the current president holds the privilege and Biden is not asserting it, plus the crime/fraud exception. He said the matter would quickly go before chief Judge Beryl A. Howell, who would just as quickly rule against the privilege.

    Assuming GK is correct, it seems there are two possibilities, either (a) Cipollone is properly protecting the institution of his former office by seeking a ruling of the District Court, with which he will promptly abide, or (b) he is a slime-ball protecting himself, his evil political party and his old boss, so he will drag this out forever.

    • Rayne says:

      How about both? Asserting executive privilege protects both by forcing the court to rule setting precedent for other attempts, and protecting his own butt by dragging things out and buying time to come up with better butt covering.

  10. bmaz says:

    And now Pat Philbin has been subpoenaed. Same thing as applies to Cipollone likely applies to Philbin too. Very possible both already were talking to DOJ and these both are at least marginally “friendly subpoenas”.

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Ha! I’ve been waiting for that. He has always been more interesting to me than Cipollone.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Me too. I’ve been assuming both were waiting for friendly subpoenas, so their cooperation (whatever it amounts to) at least appears involuntary to Trump and MAGA eyes. Cipollone’s response to the J6SC (appearing publicly to resist what might seem to Trump and his allies like Cheney’s increasing “persecution” only to honor the subpoena and answer questions) strikes me as a promising template for getting useful information from insiders walking a CYA tightrope.

  11. Badger Robert says:

    Attorney Cipollone was a conspirator. But because he held his position, based on his willingness to work on corrupt pardons, he has an immense amount of information, which would be admissible as evidence about how the conspiracy worked.
    Some of these people aided parts of the conspiracy, while they blocked other parts, which led Trump to continue with his preferred plan, which depended on violence and extreme violence.
    Cipollone has something of value. And needs something from the DofJ.
    Some of perpetrators have defenses, And it will be tedious work to try a case against them. Is that an excuse to not even try? Are we going to ruled by white collar defense lawyers?

    • bmaz says:

      Oh, it is silly to point blankly call Cipollone a “conspirator”. What is your evidence? Simply that he served as WHC?? You have no idea what pardons he worked on, there is no requirement that they go through the WHC office. None. And you don’t know. Even if he was presented with some of them, he may well have objected and Trump did it anyway. You don’t know. There is simply a boatload of crazy here today based on little but emotion and in several other cases a bullshit understanding of how things work.

      • nord dakota says:

        I’m with bmaz on this one.

        Cipollone has a lot of polish–some of the people testifying in closed meetings seemed to strain trying to figure out how to communicate that they aren’t thugs themselves without hinting that someone else might be a thug. (How many GOP staffers can dance on the head of a pin?). Easy for someone like myself to find him persuasive (I’m a sucker for people with a serious but calm demeanor). One might almost imagine him a Romney Republican. But he’s outdone Amy Barrett in reproduction.
        His oldest daughter went into “journalism”–worked for Ingraham before becoming a Fox News producer.

        So I looked her up, and aside from her being Patty Baloney’s daughter, working for Ingraham and Fox, her name is in the acknowledgements (along with many others including Sean Hannity and Mary Matalin) at the end of a book called Amulet of Power, by Raymond Arroyo. The book is part of a Christian fantasy series featuring Will Wilder, a 13 year old boy, as he fights ancient Egyptian demons and such. Arroyo also runs a news program on the Eternal World Network and has had spats with Pope Francis.

        Amon is the demon (may be more, haven’t gone that deep).

        So why did Pap Bundy name his kid Ammon?

  12. Cosmo Le Cat says:

    Question 1: If the DOJ goes to court and argues a crime/fraud exception to EP, would the prosecution be required to present a prima facie argument describing the alleged crime(s) or fraud?

    Question 2: Would Trump need to become an intervenor in any EP case in order to ensure it’s appealed all the way to the SC?

  13. jasper says:

    Cipollone is at least guilty of dereliction of duty, and he’ll do whatever he can to distance himself from that fact.

    One wonders how much he learned about coup plans in other branches government, and has he shared that with the committee? or DoJ?

    • bmaz says:

      Dereliction of duty? Do you think that is a criminal offense, in and of itself, for which he can be found guilty of without a separate criminal offense in which that could be partial proof of an element? This is not the military and UCMJ law you know.

      Jeebus, new commenters full of goofy thoughts are literally coming out of the woodwork today. And how did YOU come to be here?

      • jasper says:

        I didn’t make any claim about it being a crime or not – he clearly failed in his responsibility to protect the republic, in real time. And I’d think most government lawyers ARE supposed to report illegal activity, even when it’s the doing of their government-employed clients. Or is that not the relationship between the WH counsel and a president clearly acting outside of his official duties?

        I don’t know what you mean but I don’t understand why that thinking is ‘goofy.’

        edit – and I’ve read Marcy since way back when she was on bloggingheads

        • bmaz says:

          Yes, you indeed did. You phrased it as “guilty”. That applies to crimes, not civlil cases. Dereliction of duty is not per se a crime except in the military.

          • jasper says:

            Sure, I meant morally guilty, I guess, rather than legally. Excuse me for being imprecise.

            I guess another way to ask my question is – in your thinking, what is the limit to crimes that Trump could attempt or commit in front of WH counsel before they’d have to turn him in? Because sedition seems pretty high on the scale to me. Why do you assume Cipollone *didn’t* see that kind of thing? It seems like lots of people did.

            • timbo says:

              It’s a good question. Basically, what’s the line that has to be crossed before a lawyer in the WH crosses over into sedition themselves? The problem with all this ACP and EP is that it can effectively used to obscure the actual intentions of the lawyers involved to a great extent.

              Bmaz mentioned that PC is likely covering his own keister with a lot of these privilege assertions…and that any competent lawyer would do that same. However, it’s not a big stretch to imagine some of the smarter lawyers involved also made sure to get into the record that they were openly opposed to certain actions that they may well have privately supported. Or are these lawyers not so sophisticated as to use such a tactic to avoid possible culpability?

              • Silly but True says:

                It’s not a high bar. You specifically asked for “a lawyer…” but journalist James Callender was prosecuted for sedition for calling John Adams a hermaphrodite, among his various scandalous political hits on behalf of Thomas Jefferson; before the Adams’ prosecution, he managed to earlier flee being charged with sedition against Alexander Hamilton for calling him equally unfriendly names.

                Admittedly, there’s a pretty wide canyon between calling a President a hermaphrodite versus bear-spraying federal police, beating them with a polearm, routing their security line, breaking into the capitol and then running around the US Capitol screaming you’re going to start hanging politicians, so who’s to say where Cipollone might draw his line.

                • timbo says:

                  It’s very likely we’ll never know of course.

                  At the very least, we can assume that most if not all White House lawyers these days like to be close to the political center of power…for whatever, possibly most, reasons?

                  I am reminded of PC saying that everyone else at the White House that day wanted an end to the violence. And the seemingly contradictory testimony from Sarah Mathews where she observed that at least one of her colleagues was advocating for “not handing the media a win” against Twitler on Jan 6:

                  “SARAH MATTHEWS: Yes. So, a conversation started in the press office after the president sent out those two tweets that I deemed were insufficient. And a colleague suggested that the president shouldn’t condemn the violence because they thought it would “handing a win” to the media if he were to condemn his supporters. And I disagreed.

                  “I thought that we should condemn the violence and condemn it unequivocally. And I thought that he needed to include a call to action and to tell these people to go home, and a debate ensued over it. And I became visibly frustrated, and my colleagues were well aware of that. And I couldn’t believe that we were arguing over this in the middle of the West Wing, talking about the politics of a tweet, being concerned with handing the media a win when we had just watched all of that violence unfold at the Capitol.

                  “And so, I motioned up at the TV and I said do you think it looks like we’re effing winning? Because I don’t think it does. And I again reiterated that I thought that the president needed to condemn the violence because it didn’t matter if it was coming from the left or the right, that you should condemn violence 100 percent of the time.”

                  Basically, PC may have wanted the violence to end ASAP, as I’m sure most people did at the WH that day. However, some of them appeared to be reluctant to be “handing a win” to the media? So who were those folks, Pat? Were there none, some? Sarah Mathews saw them down in the trenches…yet you saw none of them around Twitler? Because there is a rough edge across which some in the WH seemed to have subsumed/confused/neglected/ignored their oath to the Constitution with the desire to please Twitler (in such a way as to remain in power themselves?).

                  • bmaz says:

                    Seriously GIVE IT A REST. You are literally flooding this blog with your run on bunk and flagrant speculation. STOP.

  14. Ddub says:

    When you take the counterfactual, that he doesn’t leak the subpoena and TFG hears elsewhere, it follows that Patsy Baloney is anything but, and in a nod to the ineffable Vin he’s covering all his bases.

  15. Scott says:

    I haven’t read all the case law on executive privilege, but I thought the privilege protects the executive branch (thus the name) from intrusion by the judicial and legislative branches. The notion that an executive branch employee can assert EP against an executive branch investigation seems weird. The executive branch would be both demanding the evidence and refusing to provide it.

    • timbo says:

      Even weirder still is seeing self-proclaimed so-called “Constitutional literalists” supporting the notion of Executive Privilege at all. Executive Privilege is not mentioned at all in the Constitution so where does it derive from exactly…outside of the unchecked, unaccountable power that some who become President and some who “advise” to them may seek?

      Oh, there are treatise and tomes that one can read on it but it basically boils down to the President not needing to be held responsible for the advise he may solicit or receive in the conduct of his duty as Chief Executive of the land. Where such a privilege might be necessary is likely to fit neatly on the head of a pin if one were to reason it out a whit, not to every private conversation and utterance while in office that the adoring fans of Executive Privilege seem to need.

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