During the 21 months of Don McGahn’s stormy tenure at the White House, he would often tell colleagues, half-joking: “It’s a good week if I don’t get called into the Oval.”
Pat Cipollone, McGahn’s successor as White House counsel, doesn’t engage in the same sort of gallows humor — if only because, through what allies say is good personal chemistry with his mercurial boss and critics counter is a willingness to enable his worst instincts, he’s managed to stay on the good side of a president who fondly calls him “Mr. Attorney.”
In six months on the job, Cipollone has turned the White House counsel’s office into a central hub of activity and made himself a constant presence in the Oval Office. A 53-year-old former corporate lawyer with an affable style, he has also made enough of an impression on Trump that the president has begun asking aides for their assessment of the White House’s top lawyer — a sign that, at the least, Cipollone has his client’s attention.
“He has the president’s ear, he’s earned the president’s respect and that allows people in this building not just to survive but to succeed in doing their jobs,” said Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to the president.