The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection is still trying to nail down a witness list for an upcoming hearing about former President Donald Trump’s efforts to use the Justice Department to help support his false election fraud claims, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The hearing, which had been scheduled for Wednesday but was postponed until next week, would feature former top Trump administration legal officials who stood up to the former president’s pressure. Former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue are expected to appear.
But the committee is striking out with Pat Cipollone, Trump’s White House counsel, who many former Trump administration officials credit with helping prevent Trump from taking even more legally questionable actions in the months around the election. Sources say Cipollone is not expected to join the in-person testimony. He previously appeared for a closed-door interview with the committee.
Sources say the committee also may have to do without another former top Justice Department official they had planned to join the hearing next week: Steve Engel, who headed the Office of Legal Counsel. Engel was a key witness at a pivotal January 3 meeting at the White House where Trump held a reality TV-show style contest over whether to fire Rosen and install someone more amenable to run the Justice Department to support his election fraud claims.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, in an earlier investigation, found Engel told Trump at the meeting that he and other top officials would resign if he fired Rosen. Cipollone would be a noteworthy hearing witness as a former White House lawyer and close aide to the former President. Engel, however, doesn’t have the same status and claims of executive privilege.
Representatives for Cipollone and Engel didn’t comment. The House select committee declined to comment.
Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, closed Thursday’s hearing with a plea for more witnesses to come forward to cooperate with the committee.