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Cipollone ‘Must Come Clean’? Calls for Disciplinary Action Against WH Counsel Intensify


White House counsel Pat Cipollone played a starring role in the New York Times’s latest report on the details in John Bolton’s forthcoming memoir, The Room Where It Happened, raising even more questions about Cipollone’s candor and participation in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

According to the Times, Trump instructed Bolton–“during an Oval Office conversation in early May that included the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone”– to “help” with the pressure campaign on Ukraine to leverage investigations of the Bidens.

The president has denied the meeting (“never happened,” he said) and Giuliani said it was “absolutely, categorically untrue.” That hasn’t stopped people from calling out Cipollone. House Manager Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) immediately brought up the Times article in Cipollone’s presence on Friday, the day the Senate is expected to block new witnesses. Acquittal would soon follow, whether today or sometime early next week.

At least legal ethics scholar has argued the Cipollone should not have been allowed to represent the president at the impeachment trial, citing the advocate-witness rule. That argument was made well before the latest reporting because Cipollone was the White House lawyer who was told there were concerns about the July 25 Trump-Volodymyr Zelensky phone call–a call that went on to be described in a whistleblower complaint. Many immediately responded to Friday’s news by suggesting Cipollone should face disciplinary action or, at the very least, that he “must come clean.”

Some wondered if the heat on Cipollone explained why he has played a less central role in recent days.

Just yesterday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggested Trump lawyers should be disbarred for the statements they’ve made at trial.

Cipollone’s falsehood about what went on in the SCIF sparked similar outrage and demands for formal discipline by the bar.

[Image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.