President Donald Trump’s “material witness” attack dog, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, definitely hit all the right notes on Tuesday when it came to appeasing both his boss and the president’s supporters. Criticism of a number of Cipollone’s impeachment trial statements promptly flowed, but one in particular was widely singled out as a “blatant lie.”
Anti-Trump lawyer George Conway and others swarmed a clip of Cipollone falsely saying that Impeachment manager/House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) didn’t allow Republicans into the SCIF–the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility where closed door depositions of impeachment witnesses occurred.
“This is unbelievable. A brazen, disgraceful, and shameful lie. Every Republican member of three major House committees was allowed to attend,” Conway said. “Many didn’t.”
Conway’s right about that. Recall: House Republicans who weren’t on the relevant committees made a scene, stormed the SCIF and were kicked out. Some Republicans who actually could be in the room opted not to attend. And for what it’s worth, all of the lengthy deposition transcripts that went public show that Republican lawmakers and Republican counsel Steve Castor were very much allowed to ask the witnesses questions.
Many others, legal observers and otherwise, were quick to respond to Cipollone’s falsehood.
Impeachment manager Schiff directly addressed the Cipollone statement in question. Schiff stopped short of calling Cipollone a liar, but he did say Cipollone was “mistaken.”
“I’m not gonna suggest to you that Mr Cipollone would deliberately make a false statement…but I will tell you this: he’s mistaken. He’s mistaken,” Schiff said. “Every Republican on the three investigative committees was allowed to participate in the depositions. More than that, they got the same time we did.”
A smorgasbord of other criticisms of Cipollone soon followed.
What do you mean, no witnesses for the president?
During the House Intelligence Committee phase of the impeachment, the president, his lawyers and his Republican supporters complained that they were barred from participating in the proceedings and mounting a defense. The Judiciary Committee invited the White House to participate, but Trump et al. opted out of the proceedings entirely, seemingly as part of strategy to avoid legitimizing it by participating.
Cipollone has repeatedly relayed to key witnesses the president’s directives not to testify, as Democrats attempted to make the case that the president abused his power and obstructed Congress. Cipollone has attempted to turn the tables, saying that, actually, it is congressional Democrats who have abused their power. He even asked the House to either immediately end the “charade”now or, as Trump said, impeach the president “fast” so we could get the trial in the Senate (i.e. acquittal) over with.
Manufacturing process crimes?
Democrats trampling on executive privilege? Cipollone’s own deputy Pat Philbin admitted on Tuesday that the president didn’t formally invoke said privilege.
Philbin just admitted that Trump hasn’t invoked Executive Privilege.
Meaning, he just accused his co-counsel and boss Pat Cipollone of lying to the Senate.
— emptywheel (@emptywheel) January 21, 2020
[Image via CSPAN screengrab]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]