Raskin says Cipollone gave “valuable” testimony to Jan. 6 committee

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Washington — Rep. Jamie Raskin, a member of the House select committee probing the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, said Sunday that former White House counsel Pat Cipollone provided the panel with “valuable” testimony during a closed-door interview last week.

“We’re going to get to use a lot of Mr. Cipollone’s testimony to corroborate other things we’ve learned along the way,” Raskin told “Face the Nation” of the panel’s upcoming hearings. “He was the White House counsel at the time, he was aware of every major move I think that Donald Trump was making to try to overthrow the 2020 election and essentially seize the presidency. I considered his testimony valuable.”

The select committee will convene Tuesday for its seventh public hearing, and Raskin is expected to play a leading role. The panel has laid out for the American people former President Donald Trump’s multi-pronged campaign to stay in power by pressuring former Vice President Mike Pence, attempting to have the Justice Department challenge state election results and pushing state election officials to overturn the election results in their states.

Raskin would not disclose who will appear before the committee for Tuesday’s hearing, but said viewers will learn the “fundamental importance” of a meeting at the White House on Dec. 18, 2020, that included a number of outside advisers — among them Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and former national security adviser Michael Flynn — who pushed the baseless theories the election was rigged. That meeting, he said, has been described as “the craziest” of Trump’s presidency.

“The group of lawyers, of outside lawyers, who’ve been denominated ‘Team Crazy’ by people in and around the White House, came in to try to urge several new courses of action, including the seizure of voting machines around the country,” he said.

The congressman noted that after the meeting, in the early hours of Dec. 19, Trump sent a tweet urging his millions of followers to travel to Washington, D.C., for the rally on Jan. 6. His supporters would go on to breach the Capitol building in an attempt to stop Congress from reaffirming President Biden’s win.

“Just an hour or two later, Donald Trump sent out the tweet that would be heard around the world, the first time in American history when a president of the United States called a protest against his own government, in fact, to try to stop the counting of Electoral College votes in a presidential election he had lost,” Raskin said. “Absolutely unprecedented, nothing like that had ever happened before.”

In the course of its year-long investigation, the select committee has spoken with more than 1,000 people, including a number of White House aides and top Trump campaign officials. The panel issued a subpoena for Cipollone’s testimony after Cassidy Hutchinson, a White House aide, told lawmakers he expressed legal concerns about a potential trip by Trump to the Capitol on Jan. 6 and the language in the president’s speech at the Ellipse.

Cipollone appeared before the committee Friday for more than eight hours. Alex Holder, a British documentary filmmaker who was with Trump and his family in the weeks leading up to and days after Jan. 6, has also answered questions from investigators and turned over footage.

Among the events captured by Holder and his crew was the moment in January 2021 when Pence learned the House would be taking up a resolution calling on him to invoke the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to remove a president from office.

“The vice president walks in, he sits down, and this is, I mean, on that day, he was probably the most famous man in the world. Because this was all about the 25th amendment and whether or not he was actually going to invoke this procedure. So it was an extraordinary day,” Holder said in an interview with “Face the Nation.” “And he sits down in the chair and his aide hands on every phone and myself, and also our director of photography saw that it was from the speaker’s office. And we captured this extraordinary moment, and also the aftermath of it as well. So it was we were walking in history all the way through this entire process of making this documentary.”

Holder said across the time he spent with the former president, Trump continued to double down on the belief the election was stolen and did not appear to understand what democracy means.


Alex Holder, filmmaker who had access to Trump inner circle, discusses new Jan. 6 documentary

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“When I was sitting in front of him, you know, in the White House, on, you know, sort of four or five days after his own attorney general has said, there’s no evidence to support his claims of election malfeasance. And he’s given me all these different reasons as to why there actually is election issues and how we need to intervene. And we need to sort of get brave and courageous judges,” he said. “I mean, this isn’t a man who really sort of fully understands what it means to be what democracy actually, really means.”

In addition to those who have appeared before the committee already, Raskin said he and his fellow investigators have wanted “everybody’s” testimony, including potentially from Steve Bannon, a close aide to Trump who defied a subpoena from the panel for his records and testimony. 

Bannon was held in contempt of Congress by the House for refusing to comply with the demand and indicted by a federal grand jury on one contempt count last year.

But Bannon’s attorney told the select committee in a letter on Saturday he would be willing to testify before lawmakers, preferably at a public hearing. The letter comes as Bannon’s trial for defying the subpoena is set to begin later this month.

“I understand from reports today, he’s had a change of heart, and after watching, presumably, all of these people come forward, you know, including Cassidy, Hutchinson, you know, he’s decided that he wants to come in,” Raskin said. “If he wants to come in, I’m certain that the committee would be very interested in hearing from him.”

Raskin said the committee has undertaken the same process for all witnesses and suggested it would follow the same for Bannon, beginning with a taped deposition behind closed doors.

He also encouraged Ginni Thomas, a conservative activist who is married to Justice Clarence Thomas, to comply with the committee’s request for a meeting.

“The vast majority of people, young, middle-aged, old — Cassidy Hutchinson’s a great example — have done their civic duty, have done their legal duty, have done their patriotic duty, and have said, I’m going to come forward and tell you everything I know, and nothing but the truth,” Raskin said.

 A subpoena, he added, is “not an invitation to Valentine’s Day party. A subpoena is telling you, the word subpoena means under penalty of law. You get a subpoena; you come in.”

Raskin underscored the importance of the committee’s findings thus far and said he hopes investigators have presented its evidence in a “competent and effective way.”

“When you add all of this up together, it is the greatest political offense against the union and by a president of the United States in our history, nothing comes close to it,” he said. “The attempt to overthrow the result of a presidential election through a political coup, and the mobilization of an armed violent mob cannot really be compared to anything else a president has done, it makes the Watergate break-in look like the work of Cub Scouts.”



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