Underscoring the hurdles the panel faces when securing testimony from key witnesses, the congressman commended the “courageous public servants” who have already come forward to the committee and encouraged others such as Cipollone to “demonstrate what patriotism looks like” and do the same.
“As you’ve seen, when we’ve taken the step of subpoenaing people, holding them to criminal contempt, we have about a 50-50 chance for the Justice Department to get them to prosecute. And so we have to use what we hope is moral suasion at times,” he told MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “And we hoped, I think, that seeing these courageous public servants who were willing to come forward, who were willing to do the right thing” would convince him to do the same, Schiff added.
Schiff had been asked about a public appeal his colleague, Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-WY), made during the public hearing on Tuesday for Cipollone to testify before the panel. Cipollone held his post in the White House counsel from October 2018 until Trump’s departure from the White House. The committee has sought to tie Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results to the Capitol riot.
“Our evidence shows that Pat Cipollone and his office tried to do what was right. They tried to stop a number of President Trump’s plans for Jan. 6,” Cheney said. “We think the American people deserve to hear from Mr. Cipollone personally. He should appear before this committee, and we are working to secure his testimony.”
The committee has recommended Congress hold a number of individuals in contempt for failing to cooperate with its subpoenas, including Steve Bannon, Peter Navarro, Mark Meadows, and Dan Scavino. Congress has followed through on those requests, referring the matter to the department. Prosecutors perused criminal charges against some of them, such as Bannon and Navarro, but let others off the hook, such as Meadows and Scavino.
Tensions between the Justice Department and the panel have flared in recent weeks as the committee has dragged its feet on document requests, and panel members have expressed frustration with the pace of prosecutions in cases related to the Capitol riot.
Noting that this was his “third major investigation,” Schiff also highlighted the benefits of the panel’s members being on the “same page.” Both Republicans on the committee, Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), have largely gone along with their Democratic colleagues — much to the chagrin of Trump. The former president criticized House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for withdrawing his picks for the committee after two of them had been rejected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“I think, you know, as you can see from the former President Trump’s comments, [he’s] upset with McCarthy for doing probably what Trump wanted him to do, which is reject participation in it,” Schiff noted. “It’s been very helpful to have a committee where Democrats and Republicans are actually working together and want to hear what the witnesses have to say, not what each other has to say.”