The final straw for former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson with her first attorney, paid through allies of former President Donald Trump, came when he told her to stop cooperating with the January 6 House select committee even if she risked a contempt of Congress charge, transcripts of her interviews and sources familiar with her testimony tell CNN.
Hutchinson made the comments when she returned to the select committee in September to discuss the pressure campaign she felt from Trump allies.
“I’m f***ed,” Hutchinson testified she said to her mother in the days leading up to her first interview with the committee in February. Hutchinson said she felt she had no other option but to retain Trump-aligned lawyer Stefan Passantino because she couldn’t afford to pay high costs of other lawyers she contacted to represent her.
She continued: “‘I am completely indebted to these people,’ and I was like, ‘And they will ruin my life, Mom, if I do anything they don’t want me to do.’”
Hutchinson, a former aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, told the committee that Passantino repeatedly urged her to downplay her role in the White House and to say she did not recall events. She said that Passantino and other Trump associates dangled job offers around the time of her first two depositions with the committee, while her lawyer and others told her to remain loyal to Trump and she would be “taken care of.”
Hutchinson said that her “breaking point” with Passantino came in June when he advised her not to speak to the committee any more, saying that risking “contempt is a small risk, but running to the right is better for you.”
According to a friend Hutchinson reached out to around that time, who spoke to CNN exclusively, while Hutchinson had long been concerned with Passantino’s advice, the advice that she risk the contempt charge create a sense of urgency for the former White House aide. Hutchinson expressed to her friend that there was more she wanted to share, but Passantino was urging her not to. Hutchinson told her friend that former White House employees were basically being directed to not share certain things by attorneys paid by Trump world. Hutchinson also expressed concern that committee investigators were not asking the right questions.
“It wasn’t just that I had Stefan sitting next to me; it was almost like I felt like I had Trump looking over my shoulder,” Hutchinson testified about her initial depositions before the committee. “Because I knew in some fashion it would get back to him if I said anything that he would find disloyal. And the prospect of that genuinely scared me. You know, I’d seen this world ruin people’s lives or try to ruin people’s careers. I’d seen how vicious they can be.” [Continue reading…]