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Ex-Trump ethics lawyer may face disbarment for allegedly trying to influence Hutchinson testimony

A former Trump White House ethics lawyer accused of seeking to influence former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony to the House Jan. 6 committee was hit with a complaint from a group of prominent attorneys on Monday.

Hutchinson, who was a top aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, provided damning information during the House committees January 6 probe and revealed that her previous lawyer, Stefan Passantino, had tried to influence her testimony and encouraged her to withhold information from the committee.

In a complaint filed by the group Lawyers Defending American Democracy on Monday, several dozen leading attorneys accused Passantino of subornation of perjury, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and bribery, all of which are crimes. 

The letter cited Hutchinson’s testimony as well as her claim that Passantino assured her she would get a “really good job in ‘Trump world'” while seeking to coach her testimony.

“The Office of Disciplinary Counsel should promptly initiate an investigation of Mr. Passantino’s conduct and, if the facts described above are confirmed, seek his disbarment,” the complaint stated. 

Passantino’s lawyer, Ross Garber, shared a similar response to the one he provided for a group called the 65 Project, which filed a similar complaint against Passantino in Georgia last month. Garber’s statement called attention to the fact that Hutchinson testified that Passantino told her “not to lie,” and that Passantino facilitated copious amounts of testimony including “information unfavorable to former President Trump.”

Passantino, who is licensed to practice law in New York and Georgia, took a leave of absence from his firm in December, though he denied any wrongdoing in regard to his representation of Hutchinson.

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Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics specialist at NYU’s law school, told The New York Times that unlike “the other Trump lawyers, who crossed lines in what they did for their client, the complaint here alleges that Passantino betrayed Hutchinson by encouraging her to lie under oath and obstruct Congress.” 

“The work of other Trump lawyers harmed the nation. But it was visible and could be challenged,” Gillers added. “Passantino was allegedly prepared quietly to sacrifice Hutchinson to protect others.”

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