Cassidy Hutchinson gave some of the most damning testimony the Jan. 6 committee heard about former President Donald Trump. CNN reported on Tuesday that a Trump-connected lawyer who had been representing the former Mark Meadows aide advised her to lie to the committee.
The lawyer, Stefan Passantino, served as the top White House ethics lawyer under Trump and previously represented the Trump Organization. Sources told CNN he was allegedly paid by Trump’s Save America PAC to represent Hutchinson, but she dropped him before testifying. She apparently ignored his advice to mislead the committee, as her bombshell public testimony provided insight into Trump’s behavior on the day of the Capitol riot.
In the executive summary of the Jan. 6 committee’s final report, the committee detailed allegations against an attorney, including that the “lawyer had advised the witness that the witness could, in certain circumstances, tell the Committee that she did not recall facts when she actually did recall them.” The attorney, now identified as Passantino, repeatedly ignored the client’s instructions and wishes, including sharing details of her testimony with members of the press and the lawyers of other witnesses testifying before the committee. Passantiono did not disclose who his financial backers were to the client.
The full report from the committee is set to be released this week.
Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney warned during a public hearing in June that the committee had learned Trump allies were using a variety of tactics to attempt to influence witnesses. In the executive summary of the report, the committee indicates that the client whose lawyer told them to lie, now reported to be Hutchinson, “was offered potential employment that would make her ‘financially very comfortable’ as the date of her testimony approached by entities apparently linked to Donald Trump and his associates.”
Hutchinson revealed during her testimony in June that Meadows had been aware of the possibility of violence on Jan. 6, that Trump had wanted to allow armed individuals to enter his rally at the Ellipse, and that he went into a full-blown meltdown when his Secret Service detail refused to drive him to the Capitol, among other revelations.
In a statement to CNN, Passantino denied advising Hutchison to misrepresent or omit anything before the committee. “I represented Ms. Hutchinson honorably, ethically, and fully consistent with her sole interests as she communicated them to me,” Passantino said. “I believed Ms. Hutchinson was being truthful and cooperative with the Committee throughout the several interview sessions in which I represented her.”
Passantino also told CNN he has taken a leave of absence from the law firm Michael Best & Friedrich.