January 6th committee subpoenas White House counsel under Trump

Hutchinson said Pat Cipollone warned her they could face ‘every crime imaginable’ based on former president’s behaviour

A congressional panel investigating the January 6th, 2021, assault on the US Capitol announced on Wednesday that it has subpoenaed former president Donald Trump’s White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, to testify about Mr Trump’s activities on the day of the melee.

The subpoena seeking a deposition from Mr Cipollone followed dramatic public testimony on Tuesday from a former White House aide, who told the panel that Mr Cipollone had warned her that they could face “every crime imaginable” if Trump went to the Capitol on January 6th after delivering a fiery rally speech to his supporters.

“The Select Committee’s investigation has revealed evidence that Mr Cipollone repeatedly raised legal and other concerns about president Trump’s activities on January 6th and in the days that preceded,” the panel said in a statement.

“Any concerns Mr Cipollone has about the institutional prerogatives of the office he previously held are clearly outweighed by the need for his testimony,” the committee said.

Mr Cipollone could not be reached immediately for comment.

Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, told the committee on Tuesday that Mr Trump wanted to leave the rally for the Capitol and that he grabbed the steering wheel of the armoured presidential SUV when he learned that the Secret Service would not drive him to the Capitol, where thousands of his supporters rioted.

“We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable,” Ms Hutchinson said Mr Cipollone told her if Mr Trump were to go to the Capitol on January 6th.

“‘We need to make sure that this doesn’t happen, this would be a really terrible idea for us. We have serious legal concerns if we go up to the Capitol that day,’” Mr Cipollone said, Ms Hutchinson testified.

But the committee faced questions on Wednesday about what steps it had taken to corroborate Ms Hutchinson’s account of Mr Trump’s having struggled with Secret Service agents.

Ms Hutchinson testified that Tony Ornato, a senior Secret Service official, told her that Mr Trump, a Republican, had struggled with agents after giving a fiery speech to his supporters outside the White House that morning in which he repeatedly falsely blamed widespread fraud for his election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

US media outlets, citing Secret Service sources, said the head of Mr Trump’s security detail, Robert Engel, and the driver of the car were prepared to challenge Ms Hutchinson’s testimony that Mr Trump had tried to grab the steering wheel.

Neither Mr Engel nor the driver made public statements on Wednesday. Mr Trump on Tuesday denied having grabbed the wheel.

An aide to the US House of Representatives committee on January 6th declined to answer questions about whether the committee already had interviewed Secret Service agents or other officials with first-hand knowledge of the incident Ms Hutchinson described.

“Ms Hutchinson stands by all of the testimony she provided yesterday, under oath, to the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol,” her attorneys Jody Hunt and William Jordan said in a statement late on Wednesday.

Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Wednesday the committee had not sought to confirm details of Ms Hutchinson’s testimony in the 10 days before the hearing, which was scheduled unusually quickly. The Secret Service in a statement on Tuesday said it was co-operating with the committee.

Mr Guglielmi did not immediately respond to questions about the significance of the 10 days or whether the committee contacted the agency previously to discuss Mr Trump’s behaviour on January 6th. — Reuters