STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Meet Trump's new White House counsel

Washington lawyer Pat Cipollone will be President Donald Trump's next White House counsel, according to a source briefed on the matter. CNN's Jessica Dean reports on what this will mean for the Trump administration as midterms approach.

Posted: Oct 19, 2018 1:26 PM
Updated: Oct 19, 2018 1:41 PM

President Donald Trump's pick to fill the job of White House counsel is an indication the White House is preparing for possible post-election legal brawls with Democrats over everything from the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation to possible impeachment if Democrats take over the House of Representatives.

Pat Cipollone is taking over an office formerly led by Don McGahn, whose last day at the White House was Wednesday. While McGahn was planning on leaving the White House, his departure was expedited by Trump's Tuesday announcement of Cipollone's appointment, sources say.

Should Democrats take over the House, the President's lawyers expect a flood of new oversight investigations of executive branch agencies, which the GOP-controlled Congress has largely avoided. Democrats are also expected to try to get access to materials from the Mueller investigation, which the President's lawyers argue should be protected by executive privilege. The President and his lawyers have also raised the likelihood of an impeachment battle, even though Democratic leaders have tried to avoid discussing the issue.

Cipollone's arrival marks an important change for the President because it means he will have a White House counsel who isn't sidelined by conflicts as a result of being a witness in the Mueller investigation.

McGahn and others in his office have provided interviews to Mueller as part of the investigation into whether the President tried to obstruct the inquiry. As a result, the President had to bring on Emmet Flood as his own special counsel to handle Mueller interactions on behalf of the President's office. The relationship between Trump and McGahn was further damaged when McGahn's clashes with the President became public knowledge in news reports.

Cipollone is leaving his partnership at the Washington law firm Stein Mitchell Cipollone Beato & Missner to take the White House job. But behind the scenes in recent months, he was already working as an outside adviser to the President's legal team, becoming something of a Trump whisperer, sources close to the President's legal team say.

"He's developed a relationship with the President," one person close to the Trump legal team told CNN. "He knows how to talk to (Trump) and ... that's important."

Cipollone is a seasoned litigator and former Justice Department official who served during President George H.W. Bush's administration, but he lacks extensive experience dealing with congressional investigations. The President and his legal team think that's not going to be a problem in part because Flood plans to remain in his post to help manage those interactions, according to people briefed on the matter.

The President's legal team thinks Cipollone will make a good team with Flood "should things take a nasty turn in November," a person close to Trump's legal team said. Cipollone's Washington skills work well, the source said, with other members of the team led in part by Jane and Marty Raskin, Florida-based lawyers who have been leading day-to-day negotiations with the Mueller team.

"He blends the legal and the political very well," the source close to the President's legal team said.

Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for the President, said that after working with Cipollone over the past several months he's "confident he will build a solid team in the White House Counsel's Office."

Former Obama White House counsel Neil Eggleston, who previously worked with Cipollone, said Cipollone is a "solid litigator used to high stakes litigation. He's got the right temperament for the job."

Eggleston said the key for Cipollone is to surround himself with top deputies who have the skills he doesn't, adding, "I don't worry he's going to do that."

Cipollone is expected to join the White House in the next two weeks, but he's already gotten a small taste of the unusually unscripted nature of the Trump presidency.

Trump made his announcement of Cipollone in an Associated Press interview on Tuesday, which came as a surprise even to Cipollone and others in the President's legal team and the White House. While he knew he had the job, the sudden announcement wasn't part of a planned rollout as usually happens with significant personnel announcements in the White House.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to accurately describe Democrats' expected efforts to access Mueller investigation materials.

Huntsville
Scattered Clouds
89° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 90°
Florence
Few Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 88°
Fayetteville
Scattered Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 90°
Decatur
Scattered Clouds
89° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 90°
Scottsboro
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 93°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 91776

Reported Deaths: 1639
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12039228
Mobile9170197
Montgomery6305147
Madison508227
Tuscaloosa398466
Baldwin326323
Shelby307532
Marshall298433
Unassigned281255
Lee251940
Morgan224315
Etowah195728
DeKalb171813
Elmore162637
Calhoun159012
Walker147464
Houston132712
Dallas129423
Russell12471
St. Clair123612
Limestone120813
Franklin120620
Cullman115711
Colbert110712
Lauderdale109512
Autauga103020
Escambia97915
Talladega92713
Jackson8704
Chambers82838
Tallapoosa82278
Dale78722
Butler75135
Blount7413
Chilton7226
Coffee7165
Covington71520
Pike6607
Barbour5635
Lowndes55824
Marion54724
Marengo52614
Clarke4879
Hale45726
Bullock44111
Winston43211
Perry4314
Wilcox4089
Monroe3954
Randolph39110
Bibb3813
Conecuh37210
Pickens3719
Sumter35918
Lawrence3240
Washington31412
Macon31113
Crenshaw2973
Choctaw27612
Cherokee2477
Henry2463
Greene24511
Geneva2420
Clay2235
Lamar2032
Fayette1765
Cleburne1211
Coosa922
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 112441

Reported Deaths: 1117
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby21728293
Davidson19563205
Rutherford615553
Hamilton572047
Knox410837
Williamson330822
Sumner321970
Unassigned29575
Out of TN278914
Wilson210222
Sevier17565
Montgomery175212
Bradley173910
Putnam160113
Trousdale15766
Robertson145919
Hamblen129713
Blount11817
Tipton11239
Maury10897
Washington10892
Madison92913
Bedford87711
Macon84113
Sullivan8339
Hardeman83011
Lake7560
Loudon6823
Bledsoe6741
Fayette6428
Anderson6307
Dickson6091
Gibson5902
Dyer5687
Cheatham5486
Rhea5111
Jefferson5083
McMinn49320
Lawrence4916
Henderson4690
Obion4534
Lauderdale4386
Carter4335
Warren4294
Coffee4212
Cocke4121
Hardin4097
Haywood4025
Roane3922
Cumberland3856
Smith3843
Monroe3779
Greene3765
Hawkins3694
Giles35410
McNairy3245
DeKalb3221
Weakley3103
Franklin2864
Marshall2662
Lincoln2551
Carroll2443
Crockett2364
Claiborne2350
Hickman2330
Henry2250
Campbell2211
Wayne2191
Marion2094
White2053
Chester1962
Grainger1790
Polk1793
Johnson1770
Decatur1692
Overton1391
Unicoi1390
Union1290
Cannon1260
Humphreys1093
Benton1081
Jackson1081
Scott1050
Grundy1022
Meigs990
Sequatchie960
Morgan911
Fentress760
Hancock761
Perry740
Stewart700
Clay640
Lewis581
Houston540
Moore440
Van Buren330
Pickett251

Community Events