Can new White House counsel hold the line as Dems, Mueller gain ground?

December 6, 2018

New White House Counsel Pat Cipollone began work on December 3, following a nearly two-month delay since his appointment—and with dwindling time to help colleagues fend off both the Russia investigation and a coming onslaught of House Democratic oversight demands, Politico reports.

Cipollone, a partner at the D.C. law firm, Stein Mitchell Cipollone Beato & Missner, also has Justice Department credentials—having served there during the George H. W. Bush administration. He already has advised the White House on the Mueller probe—however, those in the know anticipate that Emmet Flood will continue to take “first chair” in that legal challenge.

President Donald Trump tapped Cipollone to replace Chief White House Counsel Don McGahn, who stepped down just before the midterm elections, on October 17, following a turbulent tenure during which he clashed with the president (and also testified to Mueller’s team). Cipollone’s start date was confirmed to Politico by “two sources familiar with the timing.”

Even before assuming his official duties, the political news outlet confirmed, Cipollone had reached out to White House legal aides responsible for everything from judicial nominations to federal litigation to presidential pardons. His first major test will involve handling (or holding off) several investigations launched by House Democrats, who will assume committee chairmanships in January.

Mike Purpura, a Justice Department alumnus who worked in George W. Bush’s counsel’s office, is likely to serve as deputy White House counsel leading the response to congressional investigations, according to a source familiar with the plans, Politico said. In that role, he is expected to emerge as a central behind-the-scenes player in the West Wing over the next two years, helping to shield the president from newly emboldened Democrats with subpoena power.

Research contact: @elianayjohnson

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