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Lawyer urged White House aide to “downplay“ Jan. 6 knowledge -testimony


Cassidy Hutchinson, who was an aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows during the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump, testifies during a public hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol, at the Capitol, in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2022. Mandel Ngan/Pool via REUTERS

A former lawyer for ex-White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson told her to “downplay” her knowledge of events leading to the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, telling her “the less you remember, the better,” according to a transcript of her testimony released on Thursday.

Attorney Stefan Passantino advised Hutchinson in preparing for a February deposition before the U.S. House of Representatives committee probing the Capitol attack to say that she could not recall certain events, she told the committee in September.

Hutchinson testified that Passantino, a former White House ethics lawyer under former U.S. President Donald Trump, never directed her to lie to the committee, but urged her not to try to refresh her memory and volunteer information about key events.

“The less the committee thinks you know, the better,” Hutchinson recalled Passantino telling her, the transcript released by the committee showed.

Passantino did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He told CNN earlier this week that he represented Hutchinson “honorably, ethically, and fully consistent with her sole interests as she communicated them to me.”

The Jan. 6 panel is scheduled to release a final report detailing its findings later on Thursday.

Hutchinson, who worked as a top aide to then White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, later switched attorneys and became a star witness for the committee. She detailed at a public hearing in June that Trump knew many of his supporters were carrying weapons on the morning of Jan. 6.

The September interview was conducted after Hutchinson agreed to waive attorney-client confidentiality to discuss her legal team. She is now represented by law firm Alston & Bird.

Her current legal team did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Passantino’s biography has been removed from the website of Washington, D.C., law firm Michael Best & Friedrich, where he led the firm’s political law practice. Passantino told CNN he was on leave from the firm “given the distraction of this matter,” but remains a partner at the law firm Elections LLC.

A spokesperson for Michael Best did not immediately respond to a request for comment.