WASHINGTON – Former President Donald Trump’s legal team is in contact with Justice Department officials investigating the Capitol attacks in an apparent attempt to block access to communications with his former top aides, two people familiar with the inquiry said Thursday.
The revelations come as federal criminal investigations appear to have intensified in recent weeks as subpoenas have been issued to former Trump White House officials and aides to former Vice President Mike Pence.
Federal grand jury subpoenas former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollo in DOJ Jan. 6 inquiry
Former White House adviser Pat Cipollone will testify before the committee on Friday, January 6
Trump’s political team issued a statement condemning Justice’s action, saying it was “clearly a concerted effort to undermine important, constitutionally-rooted executive and attorney-client privileges.” He described Justice’s inquiry and other inquiries as “biased, political persecution”.
CNN first reported It described the talks as “about whether Trump can protect from federal investigators the conversations he had while president.”
Trump is expected to claim executive privilege if the Justice Department seeks details of the president’s conversations with aides and members of the White House counsel’s office.
Former White House adviser Pat Cipollo has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury investigating the Capitol attack and campaign to subvert the 2020 election, a person familiar with the matter said earlier this week.
The Justice Department’s action involving Cipollone follows the former White House official’s testimony last month before a House committee in its separate examination of the January 6, 2021, attack.
Cipollone urged then-President Donald Trump to intervene as rioters stormed the Capitol and defended Justice Department officials in rejecting Trump’s demand to pursue false allegations of election fraud.
The Justice Department has declined to comment on the subjects of the subpoena and any contact with Trump’s legal team.
Cipollone is the most senior known member of the Trump White House to be called before a grand jury, an important step in the federal investigation.
Former Vice President Mike Pence’s top aides, including Chief of Staff Mark Short, have appeared before the grand jury.
“How could any future president ever have private conversations with his lawyers, advisers, and other senior advisers if such advisers, during or after the presidency, could be forced in front of a non-selective committee or other entity, and forced to disclose them. Privileged, confidential discussions?” Trump’s statement said.
The statement added: “President Trump will not be deterred by witch hunts or kangaroo courts from continuing to defend and fight for America, our Constitution and the truth.”
Trump isn’t just dealing with aspects of the Justice Department investigation. It is the focus of a separate criminal investigation in Georgia, where Atlanta-area prosecutors are leading a broader investigation into election interference.
The examination includes Trump’s January 2021 call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which he urged the state’s top elections official to “find” enough votes for Trump to win the state’s 2020 presidential election.