White House counsel Pat Cipollone is known to eschew the spotlight, but he broke out of obscurity during the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump Tuesday with a soft-spoken but feisty defense of the president.
Cipollone argued that the Democrats have no case, but what they are doing is dangerous to the Republic because they are trying criminalize a constitutional right and effectively steal two elections at the same time by impeaching the president. For this reason, the counselor declared that “our State Department would criticize” what they Democrats are doing if they saw it in foreign countries.”
During his opening remarks, Cipollone said that Trump’s defense team supported Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s proposed rules for the trial, declaring that the trial will prove that “the President has done absolutely nothing wrong.”
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) then argued against the rules, saying that unless both sides are allowed to produce evidence, it won’t be a fair trial.
“If you only get to see part of the evidence, if you only allow one side or the other a chance to present their full case, your verdict will be predetermined by the bias in the proceeding,” the congressman intoned. The incredible statement—made with a straight face—was directed toward the Senate majority, but was a perfect description of how Democrats conducted the impeachment inquiry in the House.
This was too much for Cipollone, who returned to the floor to mock the Democrats’ entire impeachment effort as a “wholesale trampling of constitutional rights,” blasting Schiff in particular for having the “temerity to say in the Senate that we have no use for courts.”
“It’s very difficult to sit there and listen to Mr. Schiff tell the tale that he just told,” Cipollone, a licensed attorney for nearly 30 years and a father of 10 children, said.
“Let’s remember how we all got here,” he added. “They made false allegations about a telephone call. The president of the United States declassified that telephone call and released it to the public. How’s that for transparency?” he asked, looking over at Schiff.
Cipollone seemed to get the timeline of Trump’s telephone calls with the Ukraine president wrong, indicating that the president declassified the April phone call with the Ukraine president first, when it was the second call that was first declassified.
He recovered quickly however to point out that “when Schiff saw his allegations had been proven false, “he went to the House and he manufactured a fraudulent version” of his (second) phone call with President Zelensky. True enough.
“He manufactured a false version of that call, he read it to the American people and he didn’t tell them it was a complete fake,” Cipollone added.
“Never before in the history of our country has a president been confronted with this kind of impeachment proceeding in the House,” he charged, noting that the first part of the impeachment inquiry was conducted in the basement of the House and the president wasn’t even allowed to have a lawyer present.
Cipollone charged that during this process, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee were not allowed in the SCIF, information was selectively leaked out, and witnesses were threatened “that unless you do exactly what he [Schiff] says regardless of your constitutional right, then you’re obstructing.”
The lawyer continued: “The president was not allowed to call witnesses. By the way, there is still evidence in the SCIF that we haven’t been allowed to see. I wonder why.”
Cipollone was referring to the ICIG Michael Atkinson’s transcript, which Republicans on the House Intel Committee say exposes both the so-called “whistleblower” and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff in a lie.
He also ridiculed the Dems for holding on to the Articles of Impeachment for 33 days “about an overwhelming case that they’re not even prepared today to stand up and make an opening argument about.” He added, “That’s because they have no case.”
Cipollone said that the impeachment charges are not only ridiculous, they’re “dangerous to our Republic” because Democrats are trying to claim that invoking a constitutional right to protect the Executive Branch is somehow obstruction.
In reality, Cipollone argued, “that is our patriotic duty.”
He hammered his point home, arguing that what the Democrats are doing is “frankly what our State Department would criticize if they saw it in foreign countries.”
The president’s counsel argued that “good public servants were told that they would be held in contempt. They were told that they were obstructing,” and asked, “what does Mr. Schiff mean by obstructing?”
He went on to declare that it was “ridiculous” for obstruction of Congress to be an Article of Impeachment: “Obstruction for going to court? It’s an act of patriotism to defend the constitutional rights of the president, because if they can do it to the president, they could do it to any of you, and they could do it to any American citizen.”
Cipollone mocked the Dems for impeaching the president, and then claiming after-the-fact that they “need more evidence” to make their case, saying a judge would throw him out “in two seconds” if he ever tried something like that.
“And that’s exactly what should happen here,” he argued.
“It’s too much to listen to almost,” the lawyer lamented. “The hypocrisy of the whole thing!”
Cipollone continued to rail against the Democrats’ “partisan impeachment” and accused them of trying to “steal” two elections at the same time.
Senators in this body the last time had very wise words. They echoed the words of our founders. ‘A partisan impeachment is like stealing an election.’
Talk about the framer’s worst nightmare.
It’s a partisan impeachment that they’ve delivered to your doorstep in an election year. Some of you are upset because you should be in Iowa right now. But instead, we’re here, and they’re not ready to go, and it’s outrageous, it’s outrageous. And the American people won’t stand for it, I’ll tell you that right now.
They’re not here to steal one election, they’re here to steal two elections. It’s buried in the small print of their ridiculous articles of impeachment. They want to remove President Trump from the ballot. They won’t tell you that, they don’t have guts to say it directly, but that’s exactly what they’re here to do. They’re asking the Senate to attack one of the most sacred rights we have as Americans. The right to choose our president. In an election year. It’s never been done before.
It shouldn’t be done. Now, the reason it’s never been done is because no one ever thought that it would be a good idea for a country, for our children, for our grandchildren to try to remove a president from a ballot. To deny the American people the right to vote based on a fraudulent investigation conducted in secret with no rights.