WASHINGTON – The White House counsel under former President Donald Trump and his top deputy are set to appear Friday before a federal grand jury investigating efforts to undo the 2020 presidential election, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday.
Pat Cipollone was the top White House lawyer at the end of the Trump administration as Trump and outside allies pressed for ways to overturn the results of the election, culminating in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Cipollone vigorously resisted efforts to undo the election and has said he did not believe there was sufficient fraud to have affected the outcome of the race won by Democrat Joe Biden.
He and Patrick Philbin, a deputy White House counsel also set to appear before the grand jury, have already cooperated with a separate House committee probe investigating the Jan. 6 attack and attempts to subvert the election.
The person who confirmed their appearance before the grand jury was not authorized to discuss the matter and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity. ABC News was first to report the appearance. Spokespeople for the Justice Department declined to comment.
The scheduled grand jury appearances underscore how Justice Department officials examining schemes to overturn the presidential contest have been seeking the cooperation of senior White House officials and advisers who opposed those efforts.
Federal prosecutors have been especially focused on a scheme by Trump allies to elevate fake electors in key battleground states won by Biden as a way to subvert the vote. They have issued subpoenas in recent weeks to multiple state Republican Party chairmen.
Portions of Cipollone’s private interview to the House Jan. 6 committee were featured prominently in hearings over the summer. Lawmakers aired video clips of him discussing a heated December 2020 meeting at the White House during which outside aides and advisers to Trump discussed a proposed executive order calling for the seizure of voting machines.
“To have the federal government seize voting machines? That’s a terrible idea for the country. That’s not how we do things in the United States,” Cipollone testified, adding, “I don’t understand why we even have to tell you why that’s a bad idea for the country.”
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