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President Trump's former lawyer Rudy Giuliani, pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell, former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and White House lawyer Eric Herschmann told the House Jan. 6 select committee in recorded testimony played during Tuesday's hearing about a "heated" and profane" six-hour White House meeting in mid-December 2020, during which Giuliani said he called White House officials "p***ies."
Rep. Jamie Raskin said that Giuliani and Trump allies Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn and the CEO of Overstock.com, Patrick Byrne, showed up at the White House on Dec. 18, without an appointment, and were allowed in by a junior staffer. They went to the Oval Office, Raskin said, and were able to speak to Trump alone "for some time — until White House officials learned of the meeting."
The White House counsel apparently wasted no time — Powell testified, "I bet Pat Cipollone set a new land speed record" to get to the Oval Office. Powell estimated she and the outside advisers had 10 to 15 minutes alone with Trump.
Cipollone said he walked in and saw Flynn and Powell. "I was not happy to see the people who were in the Oval Office," he told the committee. He added, "the Overstock person — I didn't even know who this guy was ... I walked in, I looked at him, and I said, 'Who are you?'"
"I don't think any of these people were providing the president with good advice," Cipollone said.
In fact, Trump's advisers were there to talk about what their next course of action would be, the committee noted. Four days earlier, on Dec. 14, 2020, the Electoral College had met and certified that Joe Biden had won the 2020 presidentially election. On Dec. 16, Trump's outside advisers drafted an executive order proposing that the defense secretary seize voting machines and analyze them. Under the proposed order, Trump would also appoint a special counsel — Sidney Powell — with the power to seize machines and charge people with crimes. Trump's advisers brought the draft order with them to the White House on Dec. 18.
Derek Lyons, the White House staff secretary, told the committee in earlier recorded testimony that Powell and Flynn were fighting with White House officials — he said the two "were looking for avenues that would result in President Trump remaining President Trump for a second term."
White House officials were incensed. Raskin said they and Trump's outside advisers fought and traded personal insults, profanity and the meeting even devolved into "challenges to physically fight."
Cipollone and then-White House attorney Eric Herschmann pushed back at claims the election was stolen. Cipollone said Powell and others displayed a "general disregard" for backing up what they were saying.
Herschmann recalled that "at one point, Gen. Flynn took out a diagram that supposedly showed IP addresses all over the world, who was communicating with whom, via the (voting) machines and some comment about Nest thermostats being hooked up to the internet."
Cipollone said that he and Herschmann and another lawyer kept asking them "one simple question — where is the evidence?" Powell and the other advisers responded, he said, with "a general disregard for the importance of backing up what you say with the facts."
Herschmann said that he asked Powell about all of the election lawsuits she had lost. She claimed the judges were "corrupt." "'Every single case in the country?'" Every judge, "'even the ones we appointed?'" That, he said, was the nice version.
He said of the meeting that "the screaming was completely, completely out there." He also said that "what they were proposing, I thought, was nuts."
Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, said the committee had spoken with six of the participants and others who "could hear the screaming from outside the Oval Office."
In his deposition, Giuliani characterized his comments as telling the White House aides, "'you guys are not tough enough.'"
"Or maybe, I put it another way, 'you're a bunch of p***ies,'" he said during his deposition, using a crude euphemism for cowards. "Excuse the expression. But I'm also sure those words were used."
"Flynn screamed at me that I was a quitter. He kept turning around and screaming at me," Herschmann said. He remembered telling Flynn to "seat your f***ing a** back down."
The meeting ended after midnight on Dec. 19. The committee showed a text sent by Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, to Tony Ornato, the former deputy chief of staff for operations. Hutchinson wrote that "the west wing is UNHINGED."
Shortly after Trump's fiery Oval Office meeting, he tweeted to his supporters to attend a big protest in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 12, 2022
Giuliani appeared to describe how the group dispersed after the meeting. "The president and the White House team went upstairs to the residence, but the public part of the residence," he said. "I'm not exactly sure where the Sidney [Powell] group went, I think maybe the Roosevelt Room. And I stayed in the Cabinet Room, which was kind of cool. I really liked that. All by myself."
Committee Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, said one important part of the hearing would be evidence that Trump's legal team, led by Giuliani, knew that they lacked factual evidence of widespread election fraud, but they went ahead with plans for Jan. 6 anyway.
The lawyer for Bernard Kerik, Giuliani's lead investigator, told the committee "it was impossible for Mr. Kerik and his team to determine conclusively whether there was widespread fraud or whether that widespread fraud would have altered the outcome of the election."
"In other words, even Rudy Giuiani's own legal team knew before January 6 that they hadn't collected enough actual evidence to support any of their stolen election claims," Raskin said.