President Trump has chosen conservative Catholic activist and longtime Washington commercial lawyer Pat Cipollone as his next White House counsel to replace Donald McGahn, according to two people familiar with Trump’s decision.
Trump told Cipollone of his selection last week.
Cipollone, who practices commercial litigation at Stein Mitchell Cipollone Beato & Missner, is a well liked and respected among Trump’s personal lawyers and had been informally advising them on the special counsel probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections since at least June.
Cipollone is expected to take over the premier legal office in the next week, pending a security clearance review. He would head up this office at a momentous and challenging time. The White House counsel’s team has been eviscerated by departures, having dwindled down to 25 lawyers from 35 earlier in the year. The office normally has a staff of 50 lawyers. It has also lost four of its five key deputies in recent months.
The losses come at an inopportune time: The White House is bracing for a withering investigative assault from Congress if Democrats take control of the House of Representatives after the midterm elections. The White House Counsel’s Office will be the key manager and defender of the administration in the expected flood of congressional investigations and subpoenas.
Trump had also debated hiring Emmet Flood, a White House lawyer who is now helping to handle the special counsel investigation, but ultimately decided to let Flood focus on his current task. Flood, who is good friends with Cipollone, will remain in his key role.
The Washington Post was the first to report in late August that Trump was considering Cipollone as his next White House counsel.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig