Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School has been in the news lately for several reasons. At first, its students were filmed seemingly mocking a native elder, Nathan Philipps, during a protest at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. The video of the incident created a national furor, and while some condemned the students’ actions as symbolic of “white privilege,” others including Donald Trump defended the students by tweeting that the media had treated them “unfairly.”
Following the incident, the Covington Catholic High School and the Diocese of Covington condemned the actions of its students, and there were suggestions that the school might even consider expelling them. But while the debate still rages nearly a week after the incident, it is the close scrutiny of the school itself which has brought about some surprises. Arguably the biggest surprise of them all is the fact that one of its former pupils, Pat Cipollone, is a top attorney at the Trump White House.
According to Cincinnati.com, Cipollone, CovCath class of 1984, took over as White House general counsel after reportedly impressing Trump during his time as “an informal adviser to the president on the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.”
Now, while there is no direct connection between Cipollone and what transpired last week, the fact that one of Trump’s top legal advisers has a direct relationship with Covington Catholic is a quirk that could not have gone unreported. It is even possible Cipollone’s personal relationship with the school might have been instrumental in Trump’s decision to publicly defend the actions of its students.
On Monday night, Trump defended the students on Twitter, saying that Nick Sandmann — the student at the center of the furor — had been “smeared” by the media.
“Looking like Nick Sandman [sic] & Covington Catholic students were treated unfairly with early judgements proving out to be false – smeared by media. Not good, but making big comeback!
“New footage shows that media was wrong about teen’s encounter with Native American.”
Other people, including Donald Trump Jr., were also quick to defend the students, saying parts of the video had been conveniently edited to paint Sandmann as the culprit.
NEW: How the White House is prepping for Democrats' onslaught after a slow start.. Meetings w agency general counsels .. Elijah Cummings tells Axios he recently met with Pat Cipollone to discuss oversight. https://t.co/es9j6mFpHt— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) January 16, 2019
Even so, Sandmann’s own justifications and support for him from the president have not been enough to resurrect the public image of Covington Catholic. The school has been panned in several quarters, and those voices may only amplify when critics learn that one of Trump’s closest associates is the most famous alumnus of the school.