Trump attorney could be disbarred over Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony
A former Trump administration attorney could be disbarred over allegations he falsified testimony before the House Select Committee to Investigate on Jan. 6.
A group of three dozen attorneys affiliated with the center-left organization Lawyers Defending American Democracy filed a lawsuit with the Washington, D.C. bar on Monday, accusing Stefan Passantino, a former member of the White House Legal Counsel’s office, of pressuring Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, to provide false testimony to members of Congress investigating the president’s actions leading up to the Capitol riot in January 6, 2021.
Hutchinson later publicly corrected his testimony, prompting pause for House investigators that has since become part of the case being worked on against Trump and his associates by Attorney General Merrick’s Justice Department. Garland.
“Mr. Passantino’s efforts to obstruct and interfere with his contribution to the legislative and historical record cannot be rationalized, dismissed or ignored.
whether our code of professional conduct is to serve its critical purposes,” the complaint read. “The Office of the Disciplinary Council should quickly open an investigation into the conduct of Mr. Passantino and, if the facts described above are confirmed, request his removal.
In a 22-page list of grievances, the group described a series of alleged transgressions, including allegations that Passantino encouraged Hutchinson to provide false testimony to Committee 6 members – a federal offense – and “put her on danger of criminal sanctions to protect other clients represented by his firm.”
Passantino allegedly urged Hutchinson to ignore returning to committee members to correct her testimony after telling them she did not remember an event she had actually committed – which could be considered perjury – and, to at one point encouraged her not to prepare for the testimony she was expected to give to the committee, including urging her not to pull calendars or other documents that might help members of Congress establish a precise timeline of events surrounding January 6.
Passantino also told Hutchinson that she did not have to testify to conversations she may have overheard throughout her work that could help the investigation and allegedly told Hutchinson that her top priority in her testimony was to protect Trump and people like Eric Hershman, then a senior Trump adviser and former client of Passantino.
During their conversations, Passantino allegedly suggested that Hutchinson’s testimony, if done correctly, could help lead to future employment and, at one point, discussed the details of his case with his legal partners and d other lawyers in May 2022 against his will.
All of Passantino’s actions during his testimony before the committee, the attorneys wrote, constituted a sufficiently egregious violation of ethics to warrant his disbarment.
“At every turn, Ms. Hutchinson received advice that was contrary to her best interests,” they wrote.
Monday’s complaint features the second Passantino faced. Last month, The 65 Project, a liberal advocacy group that targets former Trump lawyers, wrote a letter to the Georgia Bar citing Hutchinson’s testimony in calls for the state bar to investigate Passantino for allegedly allegedly attempted to obstruct the investigation.
Newsweek contacted Passantino – who had taken a leave of absence from his law firm last year – for a comment.
A representative for Passantino referred to an earlier letter he wrote to refute past ethics complaints as nothing more than an effort to damage his reputation, pointing to Hutchinson’s testimony that Passantino told him to don’t lie, and Passantino’s work to help Hutchinson provide damaging testimony. to Trump.
Passantino has denied claims that he encouraged Hutchinson to perjure himself, telling the Emory University student newspaper in an email exchange last year that he “represented Ms. Hutchinson in a manner that is honourable, ethical and fully consistent with her only interests as she communicated them to me”.
“I thought Ms. Hutchinson was honest and cooperative with the committee throughout the many interview sessions in which I represented her,” he said at the time.