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/Redstone
Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 37°
Muscle Shoals
Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 41°
Huntsville/Madison
Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 35°
Decatur
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 32°
Fort Payne
Cloudy
26° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 26°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 422598

Reported Deaths: 6120
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson62039921
Mobile30225548
Madison27052186
Tuscaloosa20728267
Montgomery18978305
Shelby18504114
Baldwin16251182
Lee12465101
Morgan12233113
Etowah11735168
Calhoun11122200
Marshall10191107
Houston8598148
Cullman8023105
Limestone800274
Elmore7836101
DeKalb768397
Lauderdale754683
St. Clair7535120
Talladega6166108
Walker5897174
Jackson580341
Colbert532073
Blount530483
Autauga518455
Coffee441056
Dale396181
Franklin366248
Chilton336165
Russell330310
Covington327268
Escambia316842
Dallas303196
Chambers282769
Clarke281433
Tallapoosa2616107
Pike248729
Marion245650
Lawrence243647
Winston226635
Bibb215147
Geneva201435
Marengo199029
Pickens196531
Hale175842
Barbour172936
Butler169658
Fayette168226
Cherokee160330
Henry153621
Monroe145217
Randolph139835
Washington137626
Clay126145
Crenshaw118744
Lamar118019
Cleburne117423
Macon114735
Lowndes110335
Wilcox103121
Bullock99028
Perry97419
Conecuh94420
Sumter89026
Greene76023
Coosa60515
Choctaw51224
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 685321

Reported Deaths: 8391
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby761671128
Davidson70706661
Knox38646393
Hamilton34556326
Rutherford33114283
Unassigned22759126
Williamson21364138
Sumner18205230
Out of TN1612079
Wilson14405155
Montgomery14367149
Sullivan12577211
Washington11889191
Blount11887124
Maury10941123
Bradley1075190
Sevier10461108
Putnam9931136
Madison9099178
Robertson761885
Hamblen6954109
Anderson6759102
Greene6569108
Tipton619065
Gibson5630111
Coffee560681
Cumberland537872
Dickson534678
Bedford532086
Roane519179
Carter5091112
Lawrence507569
McMinn506673
Warren497553
Loudon493750
Jefferson474975
Dyer473682
Monroe455162
Hawkins444968
Franklin410758
Obion399478
Fayette396251
Rhea381556
Lincoln378344
Marshall343536
Cocke342856
Weakley339448
Cheatham335230
Henderson332056
Campbell323940
Giles321071
White310043
Hardeman308752
Carroll307859
Hardin297647
Lauderdale293131
Macon287350
Wayne260719
Henry260358
Overton252942
DeKalb241741
Haywood239745
McNairy238142
Smith230527
Trousdale228714
Marion227731
Scott225231
Hickman222734
Fentress212531
Claiborne210129
Grainger208135
Johnson201532
Morgan188614
Crockett180338
Bledsoe174110
Chester173237
Unicoi166843
Cannon157019
Lake155319
Decatur147226
Polk142817
Grundy139320
Union138721
Sequatchie136518
Humphreys132617
Benton131935
Lewis127220
Meigs114016
Stewart105220
Jackson103721
Perry94725
Houston93922
Clay93726
Moore7959
Pickett67619
Van Buren6587
Hancock4026

Community Events