Ex-Trump White House lawyers take sides – against Trump

The day after the Jan. 6 commission concluded its most recent public hearing, all eyes turned to Washington’s federal courts last Friday. Not only did a jury convicted former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon of two counts of contempt for Congress that day, but eagle-eyed observers also saw another more cooperative Trump World figure exit the courthouse: Marc Short, former chief of staff to former Vice President Mike Pence.

Shortly thereafter, reports emerged that Short and another former Pence aide, defense attorney Greg Jacob, testified last week before a federal grand jury investigating the events surrounding the January 6 attack. And Tuesday night, The Washington Post reported that the grand jury has interviewed witnesses, including but apparently not limited to Short and Jacob, about their “talks with Trump, his lawyers and others in his inner circle trying to substitute Trump allies for certified voters from some states that Joe Biden won.”

The revelation that the Justice Department is investigating the case of then-President Donald Trump actions comes as some of his assistants work to create visible distance between themselves and their former boss. And perhaps there is no group that highlights that trend more clearly than the alumni of the Trump White House attorney’s office.

For starters, as Short left the courthouse last Friday, a second recognizable Trump alum was by his side: Emmet Flood. Flood, a partner of Washington’s legendary Williams & Connolly, has had a fascinating career. Flood, one of then-President Bill Clinton’s attorneys during his impeachment, later worked in the White House counsel’s office during the George W. Bush administration. And most recently, before Flood was Short’s attorney, he was the lead White House attorney for Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, even briefly serving as a White House attorney until Pat Cipollone arrived. When he left the White House in June 2019, Trump was effusive in his praise, tweeting that his “friend” Emmet had done “GREAT JOB.”

But these days, Flood doesn’t come close to defending the former president. Instead, he represents one of Trump’s most prominent, credible prosecutors. While Short, unlike Jacob, was not a live witness during the January 6 hearings, numerous clips of his testimony were shown to the public. And Short, like Jacob, was extremely damaging to Team Trump: He told investigators that Pence never believed he could change the outcome of the 2020 election — and that Pence has repeatedly and consistently communicated this to Trump.

Short also testified that he shared Pence’s views, communicated that to then-Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows — and that whatever Meadows had told Trump or others, he told Short that he was talking about it at least a few times. once was. In addition, Short revealed to the Jan. 6 committee that as Pence’s disagreement with Trump “became more public,” Short was concerned that “the president would somehow lash out,” so on Jan. 5, 2021, he brought in the head of Pence’s Detailed Secret Service.

Those details — and others, including Short’s recollection of the now infamous January 4 meeting, where Trump attorney John Eastman conceded to Trump, while Short, Jacob, and Pence watched, that his plan for Pence to reject certain electoral lists, would violate federal law – will likely be shared with the grand jury as well. And Flood, who has been a staunch Trump advocate regarding the Mueller investigation, is behind Short, not Trump.

However, Flood isn’t the only one among the alumni of the Trump White House attorney’s office to break with Trump. And unlike Flood, who has indicated where he stands through the company he has (or the customers he represents), others have taken sides with their words.

Take Ty Cobb, who initially oversaw the White House’s response to the Mueller investigation and was replaced by Flood. When Trump nearly declared that he would run for president again in 2024, Cobb made a ruthless statement to NBC News, explaining that any statement of Trump’s candidacy “serves no interest, but his self-defeating and overwhelming need for relevance, attention, and money.” . An announcement like that doesn’t deter him from criminal investigation.” And so as not to confuse anyone as to why Trump himself should be under criminal investigation, Cobb — a former federal prosecutor — listed Trump’s possible crimes on CNN.

And last but not least, there’s Cipollone, another former White House attorney. He could have litigated with the committee on January 6 over a subpoena for his testimony. As the White House’s chief attorney, Cipollone’s concerns about executive and attorney-client privilege were not speculative or negligible. Had he chosen that path, it is not clear whether Cipollone would have triumphed on his merits. But he probably would have been able to postpone a final decision until after January 2023, when the Jan. 6 commission expires, unless Democrats retain a majority of the House.

But nevertheless, Cipollone gave an hour-long, taped interview to the committee, and it contained multiple excerpts from the final hearing. In perhaps the most memorable part, Cipollone confirmed that everyone on the White House staff wanted people to leave the Capitol on January 6. not wanted people to leave the Capitol, Cipollone stumbled and pleaded privilege. The implication was clear: Cipollone, who didn’t want to talk to Trump on privileges, knew Trump didn’t want the attack to stop. And who was the lawyer on Cipollone’s side before that devastating revelation? None other than Michael Purpura, a deputy White House counsel during the Trump administration.

It is true that Cobb, who publicly criticized Trump well before Jan. 6, is the only former Trump White House attorney to bash him so publicly and forcefully. But the roles of Flood, Cipollone and Purpura in the investigations are telling – and perhaps another illustration of the Jan 6th commission’s tease from the commission’s vice chair, Liz Cheney, that “the dam has begun to break.” Will others join them? Watch this space – or that grand jury.

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