Respected D.C. litigator Pat Cipollone “has already begun the process of filling out his necessary paperwork” to replace Don McGahn as White House Counsel, according to Axios

Don McGahn (left), Pat A. Cipollone

Cipollone, a former DOJ attorney who practices commercial litigation, was reportedly interviewed by President Trump this week, after having advised the President’s outside legal time since at least June. He is also close to White House lawyer Emmet Flood, who is helping to handle the Mueller investigation into the 2016 US election and was also under consideration for the job. 

According to the biography on his firm’s website, Cipollone has practiced in commercial litigation, trade regulation and health-care fraud. He has extensive expertise in defending corporations as well as handling complex federal investigations and “prepublication negotiations” over defamatory media reports.

He is a former partner at the law firm Kirkland and Ellis, whose attorneys have included Kavanaugh, Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork and former George W. Bush administration solicitor general Paul Clement.

Cipollone is well regarded among some of Trump’s senior advisers, including the president’s outside attorneys, Jay Sekulow and Rudolph W. Giuliani. –WaPo

“Pat Cipollone is a brilliant attorney,” Sekulow told the Post, adding. “I have had the privilege to work with him and can attest to his skill, integrity and knowledge of the law. If selected by the president, he would make an outstanding White House counsel.”

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said “I know both Pat and Emmet very well, and either one would be an excellent choice.” 

According to Axios:

Cipollone has already begun the process of filling out his necessary paperwork, according to one of those sources. (As with any decision in Trumpworld, the president could reverse it or some other obstacle could emerge in the paperwork process. But as of today, it’s expected to be Cipollone.)

“He’s a respected Washington litigator,” the source said. “He’s not one of the big names in the Washington Republican Bar, but he’s respected.”

  • “He’s not an obvious choice,” the source continued. “Not a political guy like Don [McGahn] was. Not tied to the Hill and doesn’t know all the senators like Don does… He’s done some white collar in the past but is not a big player, like [Emmet] Flood, in the government investigations spot.”
  • The source continued that Emmet Flood, the lawyer most heavily touted for the job, “was a perfect choice” to handle government investigations given his private practice and previous White House experience.
  • Whereas Cipollone, who has no previous White House experience, does some of that in his private practice but it’s not what he’s known for, the source added. Cipollone is primarily known as a civil litigator — for example, when a company sues another company for breach of contract.

“But he’s a true believer,” the source said of Cipollone. “He’s a big Trump supporter.”

Cipollone is a practicing Catholic, having served on the board of the Catholic Information Center. He also holds a leadership position at the Foundation Stone Institute, which aims to strengthen ties between Catholics and Israelis, according to the Post. Cipollone is good friends with conservative commentator Laura Ingraham, who credited him with guiding her as a “spiritual mentor” prior to her 2002 conversion to Catholicism. 

“I had all this success and still didn’t feel like I was right,” Ingraham told the National Catholic Register in 2004, adding that Cipollone was an advisor: “I think God’s reaching out to you. That’s why you’re feeling this way. And he leaves the flock to find the lost sheep, and maybe you’re lost and he’s trying to find you.”


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