A federal judge has ordered former top Trump White House lawyers to provide additional grand jury testimony, rejecting former President Donald Trump’s privilege claims in the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of his effort to overturn the 2020 election, people briefed on the matter said.
Pat Cipollone, the Trump White House counsel, and his deputy, Patrick Philbin, appeared in September before the grand jury in Washington, DC, as part of the Justice Department probe, which is now being overseen by newly appointed special counsel Jack Smith.
Cipollone and Philbin declined to answer some questions at that time, citing Trump’s [bogus] claims of executive and attorney-client privilege.
[T]he privilege claims have been the subject of an ongoing legal fight in secret proceedings before the Washington federal judge overseeing the grand jury.
The judge has similarly rejected Trump’s privilege claims for other witnesses, including top aides to former Vice President Mike Pence. Marc Short and Greg Jacob provided a second round of grand jury testimony after the judge ordered them to answer additional questions as part of the January 6-related probe.
CNN further reports, Former Trump White House counsel and his deputy testify to Jan. 6 criminal grand jury:
Former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone and deputy counsel Patrick Philbin testified to a federal grand jury for several hours in Washington, DC, on Friday, indicating the Justice Department had compelled the men to answer more questions in the January 6, 2021, criminal investigation despite challenges from Donald Trump’s legal team.
The January 6 grand jury activity is the latest indication the investigation – now led by special counsel Jack Smith – has pushed in recent months to unearth new details about direct conversations with the former president and advice given to him after the election.
Cipollone was first seen entering the grand jury area with his attorney, Michael Purpura, before 9 a.m., and he was there for more than five hours. Purpura has not responded to requests for comment. The grand jury proceedings themselves are confidential.
Philbin, whom Purpura also represents, headed into the grand jury area just before the lunch hour on Friday, staying until about 4 p.m.
Thomas Windom and Mary Dohrmann, prosecutors in the January 6 investigation who are now to be led by Smith, were also seen walking in with Cipollone.
The investigators are looking at efforts to obstruct the transfer of power at the end of Trump’s presidency and have obtained testimony from several administration advisers closest to the former president after the election and as the Capitol was attacked by his supporters.
Philbin and Cipollone were both key witnesses to Trump’s actions in the last days of his presidency. Cipollone repeatedly pushed back on efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and according to a Senate Judiciary Committee report, he and Philbin opposed a proposal to replace the attorney general with someone willing to look into false claims of election fraud.
Previously, the Justice Department compelled top advisers from Vice President Mike Pence’s office to testify to the grand jury. They had sought to protect Pence in January 2021 from Trump’s pressure campaign to overturn the election.
Earlier this week, Trump White House official Stephen Miller, who worked with Trump on his speech at the Ellipse, had his own day before the grand jury.
On Thursday, another leg of Smith’s special counsel investigation – into the handling of documents at Mar-a-Lago after the presidency – was active in the courthouse. At least one Mar-a-Lago prosecutor was working in the secret grand jury proceedings, as three aides to Trump, Dan Scavino, William Russell and Beau Harrison, each appeared, according to sources familiar with them. Their attorney declined to comment.
Philbin and Cipollone were present for virtually all of the Coup Plotter meetings, but one as I recall. While they “pushed back” against the Coup Plot, neither man ever notified law enforcement or congressional leaders, so they are no patriots. They presumably know everything (who was present, what was discussed) that occurred in these Coup Plotting meetings. Hopefully they finally came clean before the Grand Jury and told all of the details they know, like John Dean did during Watergate.
If they did, this investigation just took a giant leap forward to indicting all the Coup Plotters as a seditious conspiracy, including Donald Trump.
The Mar-a-Lago stolen classified documents Espionage Act investigation is probably already in the drafting of the charging memo phase. Special Counsel Jack Smith and Attorney General Merrick Garland will have to make the decision to indict soon.
The January 6 Committee intends to release its report and all of the witness transcripts before Christmas, with another televised summation hearing for their final report. Jan. 6 committee to release transcripts of interviews along with report, expected before Christmas, Thompson says.