The Department of Justice’s investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol attack has encountered a significant turning point with its grand journey subpoenaing former President Donald Trump’s inner circle, including former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.
With Cipollone in its sights, the DOJ is quickly breaching the line when the investigation turns its attention to Trump, a significant shift from the probe’s initial direction.
Considering the DOJ’s grand jury investigation carries far more weight than the Jan. 6 Select Committee’s probe and subsequent hearings, it can pierce claims of executive privilege which emerged with Cipollone.
Although Cipollone was willing to provide testimony to the Jan. 6 Select Committee, when it came to conversations between him and Trump, Cipollone denied answering such questions, citing executive and attorney-client privileges as the reason for his refusal to answer those questions.
But in a grand jury investigation, a refusal to comply because of these privileges wouldn’t hold up, experts believe. Instead, as Obama-Era White House Counsel Neil Eggleston points out, “The grand jury subpoena from the Department of Justice is a much more powerful tool than a congressional subpoena.”
Eggleston continued, saying he believes it “would be inconceivable that the Department of Justice would not win.”
Cipollone, who was an active part of Trump’s inner circle at the time of the Capitol riot and has emerged as a significant figure during the Jan. 6 Public hearings could be forced to divulge information about his role in the event.
According to a recollection by former White House Aide Cassidy Hutchinson, Cipollone warned of the catastrophic repercussions should Trump have his way and be able to lead his supporters in a march to the Capitol.
At the time, Cipollone said, “Please make sure we don’t go up to the Capitol, Cassidy,” adding, “We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen,” according to Hutchinson’s retelling during testimony for the Jan. 6 public hearing.