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.”
This is unbelievable. A brazen, disgraceful, and shameful lie. Every Republican member of three major House committees was allowed to attend. Many didn’t. https://t.co/aE3Yvp2Dh3
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) January 21, 2020
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.
You need to name this for what it is: a lie.
These are the White House Counsel's prepared remarks. Mr. Cipollone knows his statement here is completely false. https://t.co/KrXZXkXYdz
— Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) January 21, 2020
This isn't a rhetorical question. Is anyone planning on filing a bar complaint against Cipollone for blatantly lying to the Senate on national tv? Because that's a violation of 18 USC 1001. @CREWcrew @POGOBlog
— National Security Counselors (@NatlSecCnslrs) January 21, 2020
Cipollone says “Not even Mr. Schiff’s Republican colleagues were allowed into the SCIF” during impeachment investigation.
That’s 100% false. Any member of the three investigating committees could attend, and many Republicans did!
— Garrett Haake (@GarrettHaake) January 21, 2020
Whatever Cipollone’s supposed claim was of @RepAdamSchiff misrepresenting the July 25 transcript (when the “transcript” was already public), its nothing compared to Cipillone’s misrepresentations today about SCIF, etc
They are not just afraid of the truth, they distort the truth
— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) January 21, 2020
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.”
Adam Schiff forcefully pushes back on Pat Cipollone's false claim that Republicans weren't allowed in the SCIF:
"He’s mistaken. Every Republican on the three investigative committees was allowed to participate in the depositions. More than that, they got the same time we did." pic.twitter.com/xvWRSZmOhY
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) January 21, 2020
“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?
Cipollone complains that President Trump was not allowed to call witnesses during House impeachment proceedings, while arguing in favor of rules that would also prevent the president from calling witnesses during his trial.
— Brad Heath (@bradheath) January 21, 2020
It's amazing to see a fact witness—who won't testify or release records in his possession—arguing on the Senate floor against allegations that are indisputably proven by (a) the slim stack of records that did come out and (b) the obstruction the witness facilitated. #Cipollone
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) January 21, 2020
It is hard to watch Pat Cipollone in the Senate without understanding that he is complicit in these impeachable events. He is a mob lawyer, nothing more.
— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) January 21, 2020
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?
Cipollone manufactures due process violations. He argues that Trump was entitled to cross-examine witnesses during investigation. That is not true in a criminal case. Right to cross-examine comes at trial. Cynical sleight of hand designed to confuse.
— Barb McQuade (@BarbMcQuade) January 21, 2020
Democrats trampling on executive privilege? Cipollone’s own deputy Pat Philbin admitted on Tuesday that the president didn’t formally invoke said privilege.
How can Cipollone accuse the Dems of trampling on executive privilege when the President has never asserted executive privilege.
— Joe Lockhart (@joelockhart) January 21, 2020
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]