Steven Lubet, who among other things is an expert in legal ethics, outlines the almost comically sleazy tactics engaged in by Cassidy Hutchinson’s lawyer, Stefan Passantino:
As a low-level aide to Mark Meadows, then-President Trump’s chief of staff, Cassidy Hutchinson had been a witness to key events surrounding the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, so it was only a matter of time until she received a subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating the attack. After interviewing several attorneys, including one who requested a $125,000 retainer, Hutchinson was eventually contacted by Stefan Passantino, who agreed to represent her and promised that she was “never going to get a bill.”
He made her an offer she couldn’t refuse, so . . .
“We just want to focus on protecting the president,” he told her. In addition, “We want to really work to protect Eric Herschmann.” Passantino also relayed a message from Mark Meadows, who “knows you’re loyal and he knows you’ll do the right thing . . . and that you’re going to protect him and the boss.”
Well how are you going to do that?
Passantino repeatedly urged Hutchinson to feign ignorance and memory loss. “The less you remember, the better,” he instructed her. When she told him what she’d heard about Trump’s attempt to join the crowd at the Capitol, Passantino admonished her to keep it to herself. “‘No, no, no, no, no. We don’t want to go there. We don’t want to talk about that.’” Because the Committee had no way of knowing about it, there was no “need to share it with them.”
The crunch for Hutchinson came when she realized that Passantino’s counsel had led her to falsely claim lack of memory in a deposition. “I am fucked,” she told him during a break. “I just lied.” Rather than help Hutchinson correct her testimony, as required by the ethics rules, Passantino instructed her to keep it up. “They don’t know that you can recall some of these things. So you saying ‘l don’t recall’ is an entirely acceptable response,” he said. “We’re not going to give them anything,” adding, “You’re doing exactly what you should be doing.”
Telling a client to lie under oath is the kind of thing that is supposed to get a lawyer disbarred.
Who was paying Passantino to represent Hutchinson for “free?” Hutchinson, who is very young but wasn’t born yesterday, wanted to know the answer to that question, but Passantino insisted she would be better off if she didn’t know the answer.
It’s a cliche that Donald Trump is basically a mob boss, but it’s a cliche because it’s true.