Former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s final straw with first attorney paid through former President Donald Trump’s allies is Jan. 6, even if she risks contempt of Congress. That was when I told her to stop cooperating with the House Selects Committee. A transcript of her interview and a source familiar with her testimony told CNN.
Hutchinson made the comments when he returned to the selection committee in September to discuss the pressure campaign he felt from Trump’s allies.
Hutchinson testified that he told his mother in the days leading up to his first interview with the commission in February. Hutchinson said he felt he had no choice but to retain Trump-affiliated lawyer Stefan Passantino because he could not afford to pay the hefty fees of other lawyers he approached on his behalf. rice field.
Hutchinson, a former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, told the committee that he repeatedly urged Pasantino to downplay his role in the White House and say he doesn’t remember the incident. said Pasantino and other Trump associates dangled job offers around the time of the first two depositions to the commission.
Hutchinson said the ‘breaking point’ with Passantino came in June, saying ‘the insult is a small risk, but running right is better for you’ and will not speak to the committee any further. I advised her to
According to a friend Hutchinson contacted around that time and told CNN exclusively, Hutchinson had long been interested in Pasantino’s advice, but the advice to risk a contempt charge wasn’t for the former White House aide. Hutchinson told her friend that she had more to share, but Passantino was urging her not to. Hutchinson also expressed concern that the commission investigators were not asking the right questions. expressed.
It wasn’t just that Stephan was sitting next to him. I felt like Trump was looking over my shoulder,” Hutchinson testified of her first statement before the committee. , because I somehow knew it would come back to him, and the prospect really scared me, that this world would ruin people’s lives, or try to ruin people’s careers. I’ve seen, I’ve seen how vicious they are.”
However, she stressed that Passantino did not explicitly tell her not to lie.
Hutchinson provided some of the toughest testimony against the former president during the commission’s Jan. 6 investigation. He revealed new details and an episode in which Trump had a heated debate with Secret Service details after his Jan. 6 speech in which his details did not bring him to the Capitol.
CNN reached out to Passantino for comment on Hutchinson’s interview.
Passantino told CNN this week that she was ethical when she represented Hutchinson, saying she believes her initial testimony to the commission was truthful and she was cooperative. “Ms. Hutchinson believed that she was sincere and cooperative with the committee throughout the several interview sessions I conducted on her behalf,” he said in a statement.
Details from transcripts of two days of interviews Hutchinson sat with her new legal team in September when she chose to return to the committee months after her public testimony in June were reported to Trump. Reveals new insights into her experience with lawyers around the world. Hutchinson took covert steps to tell the commission her truth even before finally changing her attorney. Her testimony also adds additional context surrounding the Commission’s previous allegations of witness tampering.
Passantino represented Hutchinson in the first three depositions earlier this year after a subpoena was served by the commission in late 2021.
Hutchinson switched attorneys in June before publicly testifying against Jodie Hunt, chief of staff to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Affairs Division.
CNN reported on Tuesday that the commission was referring to Passantino when an anonymous attorney told committee witnesses he could not recall events he was aware of in a summary released this week.
Hutchinson said in his deposition that he also shared details of his experience with the Justice Department.
Hutchinson said Passantino told her not to lie. “Let me be clear, Stefan never told me to lie. “It’s not perjury. They don’t know whether you want to remember or not,” she testified.
However, at a pre-interview meeting, her attorney repeatedly told her that she could say she did not remember the event. said.
He excused her from discussing what she knew about Trump’s discussion with Secret Service details in the presidential limousine on Jan. 6, she told the committee. I remember sitting in the chair, we don’t want to go there, we don’t want to talk about it.”
Shan Wu, a Washington-based defense attorney and frequent legal commentator for CNN, said lawyers can’t tell their clients what to remember and what not to remember. said. “It can be a disability issue,” he said.
“It’s actually pretty easy. You can’t tell a client to lie,” Wu added. You can say, “Don’t share too much.” Do not start volunteer information.
Hutchinson’s account of putting Passantino at ease on the morning of his first interview in February is like a novel.
“All will be well. We’re taking care of you,” Hutchinson explained to Passantino. [Meadows] put you in this position We just want to focus on defending the president. We all know you are loyal. Let you in and out, and it’s easy today, I promise.
In fact, when Hutchinson was asked about the Jan. 6 incident with Trump and the details of his Secret Service, she panicked and told Pasantino she thought she lied to the commission saying she didn’t remember. said.
“And he said, ‘They don’t know what you know, Cassidy. They don’t know you can remember some of these things. That’s why you say ‘I don’t remember.’ is a perfectly acceptable response to this,” she testified.
According to her testimony, “they don’t know there’s something,” Passantino added.
During a deposition in September, Hutchinson said she was indebted to the former president after turning to Trump-backed lawyers because she couldn’t pay six-figure legal fees. clarified the confusion.
In what she called “one of the things I regret about all this,” Hutchinson explained that she had no relationship with her father and begged him to lend her money.
“I told him I would pay him back, like, ‘Give me your interest rate,'” she said. “And he didn’t get it. And I didn’t expect him to. But I left there feeling defeated.”
After her first interview, Hutchinson contacted former Trump aides Jason Miller and Justin Clarke about potential job opportunities, she testified. I was called back the night before to receive a call from Meadows Chief of Staff Ben Williamson. The minutes show that Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney cited Williamson as one of the individuals who put pressure on Hutchinson at the end of her public testimony in June. revealing for the first time.
“He said, ‘Well, Mark wants me to know that he knows you are loyal, that you will do the right thing tomorrow, and that you will protect him and your boss. According to Hutchinson’s testimony, Williamson told her
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A few weeks after her second interview, snippets of testimony from Hutchinson and other witnesses were included in the commission’s open court filings, leading to backlash from Trump to others. rice field.
Hutchinson said Passantino told her that Trump wasn’t offended by her remarks. “But it’s just a reminder that her boss reads the minutes, and I don’t want you to end up in a bad situation as he does,” she told her. Said.
Hutchinson testified that he continued to be haunted by the feeling that he was hiding information from the committee and sought advice from former White House aide Alyssa Farrar Griffin.Hutchinson is now a political analyst at CNN. He testified that he had asked Griffin to act as a back channel to the Commission.
“Cassidy Hutchinson is a patriot and bravely kept the oaths she took when she got a job at the White House. I appreciate her willingness to share the unvarnished truth with the American people,” Griffin said Thursday. told CNN.
Hutchinson was immediately called for a third interview, which he went with Passantino. During her break, he was shocked that he seemed to know what to ask her. “And he said, ‘But no one’s talking about this, Cassidy. As far as I know, no one’s talking about this,'” she testified.
After the session, Pasantino shared information from interviews with other Trump attorneys about Hutchinson’s objections, including Meadows attorneys George Terwilliger and John Moran, she testified. He also spoke with Eric Hirschman, Trump’s former White House attorney, about the interview, according to Mr.
“This means he doesn’t care what I want, he doesn’t care what I think is best for me, he’s doing what he thinks is best for Trump and the people in Trump’s orbit. It was kind of the first clear sign of things,” she said.
The commission suggested that Hutchinson might be asked to testify again in a classified setting, and Hutchinson asked Pasantino if he had heard from the commission about any additional interviews.
Hutchinson said he advised her against agreeing to additional interviews, saying, “Disrespect is a small risk, but running right is better for you.”
“Cath, I really think this is the best thing for you. Like, I think this has to end at some point, and I think it needs to end now,” Passantino said in her testimony.
Hutchinson said the conversation prompted her to change lawyers.
“It has long been clear that he did not represent my interests in the things he knew I wanted to do to further my relationship with the Commission,” she testified. I didn’t mean to let my reputation, character, and integrity be completely destroyed in a moment. And that’s the end for me and Stefan.”