Cassidy Hutchinson, a former Trump White House aide, says she was so concerned about being pressured into whitewashing aspects of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack that she begged her family for money to hire her own defence lawyer.
When it became clear that Hutchinson would have to testify before the House committee investigating the attempted insurgency on Jan. 6, 2021, she told her mother about her concerns about retaliation from Trump supporters. “I owe everything to these people… And they’ll ruin my life if I do anything they don’t want me to do, Mom.”
When that fundraising campaign failed, Hutchinson went behind her “Trump world” attorney’s back to ensure that House lawmakers investigating Jan. 6 knew every incriminating detail she knew about what happened that day and in the weeks leading up to it.
Hutchinson also stated that she eventually fired former White House ethics lawyer Stefan Passantino, who was paid for by Trump allies, after he advised her to withhold damaging information from the Jan. 6 committee by claiming she didn’t remember.
“We just want to focus on protecting the President,” Passantino told Hutchinson at one point, according to congressional investigators. “We all know you’re devoted.”
The final straw, she claims, was Passantino’s advice to stop cooperating with the Jan. 6 committee entirely, even if it meant facing contempt of Congress charges and a possible prison sentence.
“Contempt is a minor risk, but running to the right is better for you,” Passantino is quoted as saying. “I interpreted that as FOX News, Trump’s world, and Republicans.”
The committee released those and other damning details from its extraordinary two days of closed-door interviews with Hutchinson in September, 10 weeks after she went public with her bombshell allegations against Trump and her former boss, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, in an open committee hearing.
The report was released on Thursday, January 6th.
The committee also released transcripts from interviews with dozens of other witnesses, as well as its final report on Jan. 6 late Thursday night. The report, which is more than 800 pages long, claims that Trump engaged in a criminal “multi-part conspiracy” to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 presidential election and failed to act to prevent his enraged supporters from attacking the Capitol.
Days earlier, the committee voted to request that the Justice Department file criminal charges against Trump for allegedly attempting to tamper with the 2020 election results in order to keep power despite losing to Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Passantino stated that he ‘honourably’ represented Hutchinson.
Passantino did not respond to messages left for him on Thursday seeking comment. He has, however, denied acting inappropriately, issuing a statement in which he states that he never advised Hutchinson to mislead the committee. “I represented Ms. Hutchinson honourably, ethically, and completely consistent with her sole interests as she communicated them to me. Throughout the several interview sessions in which I represented Ms. Hutchinson, I believed she was being truthful and cooperative with the Committee.”
The details of Hutchinson’s testimony, however, paint a picture of a former White House official terrified of what Trump loyalists might do to her if she testified truthfully about potentially incriminating events surrounding the Jan. 6 insurgency and other Trump attempts to subvert democracy after losing the election.
She emphasised that Passantino never told her to lie outright, but rather to refrain from providing specific information, even if it was relevant to what the committee was asking.
“It wasn’t just that I had Stefan sitting next to me; it was almost as if Trump was watching over my shoulder. Because I knew that if I said anything that he would consider disloyal, it would somehow come back to haunt me “Hutchinson spoke to the committee about her testimony. “And the prospect of that terrified me. I’d seen this world wreck people’s lives and try to wreck people’s careers. I’d witnessed their ferocity.”
Hutchinson sought assistance from family members in order to avoid Trump-aligned lawyers.
Hutchinson told committee members on September 14 that after being subpoenaed, she interviewed dozens of independent lawyers but couldn’t afford the required legal retainers of $125,000 or more. She begged her family for assistance in her time of need.
Hutchinson testified that, in addition to her mother, she spoke to an aunt and uncle she hadn’t spoken to in years about refinancing their house to free up money so she wouldn’t have to ask “Trump world” for legal representation.
“They got why I didn’t want to,” she explained to the committee.
Increasingly desperate, she drove to New Jersey to seek assistance from her father, despite the fact that she had no relationship with him. “Specify your interest rate, “She promised to pay him back no matter what.
“You have no idea what they’re going to do to me if I have to hire an attorney in Trump’s world,” she recalled telling him.
‘The fewer things you remember, the better.’
When family members were unable to assist, Hutchinson was referred to Passantino by former White House colleagues who were either working for Trump or part of his extensive support network, she said. When she asked who was paying the bill, Passantino said he couldn’t talk about it.
The attention to detail Hutchinson wanted to print out her work calendars and take other steps to prepare a detailed timeline of events so she could answer committee questions about key dates and conversations. She testified that he said no.
“Look, we want to get you in and get you out,” Passantino was quoted as saying by Hutchinson. “We’re going to minimise your role. You worked as a secretary. The less you remember, however, the better.”
Hutchinson advised not to inform the Jan. 6 committee about Trump’s alleged bid for Secret Service.
Hutchinson told Passantino about the now-famous incident in which Trump allegedly tried to “wrap his hands around” his Secret Service agent’s neck on Jan. 6 because he refused to drive him to the Capitol to accompany the mob that Trump had sent there earlier in the day during his speech at a rally.
“No, no, no, no, no, no, no. We’re not going there. “We don’t want to talk about that,” Passantino reportedly told her.
“And I asked, “But if I remember things but not every detail, and I say I don’t recall, am I not perjuring myself?” In a closed-door interview, Hutchinson told the committee. “‘I don’t recall,’ is the best answer to any of that,” his legal counsel advised.”