Pat Cipollone is the top White House attorney and the man at the heart of President Donald Trump’s defense strategy on impeachment. Cipollone is serving as the president’s lead counsel during the Senate trial, which began on January 21, 2020.
Over the course of the impeachment process in the House, Cipollone was preparing for the next phase in part by meeting with Republican Senators. Politico reported that during the fall of 2019, Cipollone traveled often to Capitol Hill to meet with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or have lunch with GOP leaders who are also lawyers, such as Senator Mike Lee of Utah.
The White House released the memorandum compiled by Cipollone and the rest of the legal team before the start of the Senate trial. In the executive summary, the defense team described the Articles of Impeachment passed by House Democrats as “flimsy” and that they “do not remotely approach the constitutional threshold for removing a President from office.” You can read the full Trial Memorandum here.
Cipollone’s background included serving in the Justice Department while President George H.W. Bush was in office. While in the private sector, he handled cases involving government contracts and congressional investigations.
Here’s what you need to know about Pat Cipollone.
1. Pat Cipollone Took a Sharp Stance Against the Impeachment Process Early On & Decided That the White House Would Not Comply With Requests For Documents
On October 8, 2019, Pat Cipollone sent a letter to House Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, explaining that the White House would not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. This meant that the White House would not comply with document requests or agree to testify before lawmakers.
Cipollone accused the Democrats of orchestrating an effort to “overturn the results of the 2016 election and deprive the American people of the President they have freely chosen. Many Democrats now apparently view impeachment not only as a means to undo the democratic results of the last election, but as a strategy to influence the next election, which is barely more than a year away.”
He added that the impeachment inquiry “violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process.” You can read the full letter here.
2. Pat Cipollone Was Said to Have Quickly Earned President Trump’s Trust & Respect After Going to Work at the White House
Pat Cipollone reportedly served as an informal adviser to the White House legal team for several months before he was brought on in an official capacity, a source confirmed to Business Insider.
After joining the administration, Cipollone was said to have quickly earned President Trump’s trust and respect. Kellyanne Conway told Politico in June of 2019, “He has the president’s ear, he’s earned the president’s respect and that allows people in this building not just to survive but to succeed in doing their jobs.”
Current and former senior administration officials told the Atlantic that Cipollone is “clear in his admiration” for the president and doesn’t try to hide that. He is also reportedly known for being very discreet and straightforward. Alex Azar, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, praised Cipollone to the magazine. “Pat would tell me if I was doing something I shouldn’t be doing or going in the wrong direction. He wouldn’t hesitate to tell me that, and I know he wouldn’t hesitate to tell the president that either.”
Cipollone is firmly on the president’s side when it comes to the call with the leader of Ukraine, which was part of what sparked the formal impeachment inquiry. In the letter Cipollone sent to Democratic leaders on October 8, 2019, he strongly defended the call and praised the president’s decision to release the official record of the call. “For his part, President Trump took the unprecedented step of providing the public transparency by declassifying and releasing the record of his call with President Zelenskyy of Ukraine. The record clearly established that the call was completely appropriate and that there is no basis for your inquiry.”
3. Cipollone Was Formerly a Litigation Partner at a Firm Based in Washington, D.C. & Served in the Justice Department During the 1990s
Pat Cipollone was a partner at the law firm Stein Mitchell Cipollone Beato & Missner LLP in Washington, D.C. before going to work in the White House. His areas of focus were listed as commercial litigation, anti-trust & trade regulation, and healthcare fraud.
According to the firm bio, Cipollone had experience handling cases involving government contract matters, tax disputes, consumer fraud, crisis management, congressional investigations and insurance litigation, just to name a few. Before joining this firm, Cipollone worked at Kirkland & Ellis LLP.
One previous high-profile case Cipollone worked on included a class-action lawsuit against Equifax. He was on the 11-person legal team that defended customers who had their personal data, including social security numbers, exposed in a major data breach. The cyberattack reportedly impacted as many as 145 million customers.
He is licensed to practice law in Washington D.C. and Illinois. Cipollone earned a bachelor’s degree at Fordham University in 1988. He attended law school at the University of Chicago and served as the managing editor of the University of Chicago Law Review, graduating in 1991.
Cipollone’s legal background also included time spent working under a different administration. He was an attorney in the Justice Department during the administration of President George H.W. Bush. He served under Attorney General William P. Barr focused on communications and special projects.
4. Cipollone Is Close With Fox News Commentator Laura Ingraham & Was Described as a ‘Big Trump Supporter’ Before He Was Hired as White House Counsel
Pat Cipollone and his family have long been friends with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who has been described as an “ally” of President Trump. Ingraham praised Cipollone before his appointment as White House counsel as “Whip smart, dedicated, tough but fair-minded, respected by both sides of the aisle. (And a great friend to many—incl me.)”
According to the Washington Post, she views Cipollone as her “spiritual mentor” and godfather. She described in her book “Power to the People” that Cipollone played a significant role in her conversion to Catholicism. Ingraham added that Cipollone and his wife were also very supportive of her during her battle with cancer in 2005.
Axios, which first reported in 2018 that Cipollone had begun filling out paperwork to become White House Counsel, cited an unnamed source that described Cipollone as being “loyal” to President Trump. The site quoted this source describing Cipollone as a “true believer” and a “big Trump supporter.”
5. Cipollone Is a Practicing Catholic & Is Married With 10 Children
In his personal life, Cipollone is a practicing Catholic. He was a co-founder of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. The annual event first launched in 2004 in Washington, D.C. and typically attracts more than 1,000 participants.
According to the event website, the Prayer Breakfast’s founders were inspired by “Saint John Paul II’s call for a New Evangelization.” Former Senator Rick Santorum is another founder.
Cipollone was previously on the board of directors of the Catholic Information Center. (As of January 2020, Cipollone was no longer listed on the website).
The group’s mission statement explains that the group is “committed to making the Catholic Church alive in the hearts and minds of men and women living and working in our nation’s capital. Through a variety of spiritual, intellectual, and professional programs, the CIC offers the tools to live an integrated life and to engage in all areas of human endeavors.” The organization holds daily weekday masses and confessions, as well as puts on speaking events. The Catholic Information Center is located about half a mile from the White House.
Cipollone is married to wife Rebecca Thelen Cipollone and they have 10 children. You can read more about Cipollone’s family by following the link below.
READ NEXT: Pat Cipollone’s Family: 5 Fast Facts