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A one-time attorney for the White House aide who provided some of the most shocking testimony before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has sued a law professor over remarks he made on social media.
Stefan Passantino, a lawyer who served as White House ethics counsel under former President Donald Trump, sued Andrew Weissmann, an MSNBC legal commentator and author, over a post Weissmann made on X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter.
“Hunt also is Cassidy Hutchinson’s good lawyer. (Not the one who coached her to lie),” Weissmann posted on Sept. 15. “And he is the guy who took notes of Trump saying, when Mueller was appointed, quoting him as saying ‘I’m f….d””
Hunt also is Cassidy Hutchinson’s good lawyer. (Not the one who coached her to lie) And he is the guy who took notes of Trump saying, when Mueller was appointed, quoting him as saying “I’m f….d”
— Andrew Weissmann (weissmann11 on Threads)🌻 (@AWeissmann_) September 15, 2023
Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Jan. 6, testified before the House committee that she had been briefly represented by Passantino after being subpoenaed to appear before the committee.
“The less you remember, the better,” Hutchinson recalled Passantino telling her at the time. She also testified that Passantino never told her to lie before the committee — and that he in fact told her not to lie — but that he also told her that “‘I don’t recall’ is not a lie.”
The alleged remarks sparked ethics complaints and calls for Passantino’s disbarment. Hutchinson ultimately hired separate counsel.
Although Hutchinson’s bombshell testimony was more than a year ago — and even though Weissmann doesn’t identify Passantino by name — the former Trump lawyer says Weissmann has damaged his reputation of “representing his clients honorably and ethically” for decades.
“Defendant Andrew Weissmann — a partisan former prosecutor and top deputy to Special Counsel Robert Mueller turned MSNBC’ legal analyst’ — has publicly impugned that reputation, claiming that Mr. Passantino coached his client, Cassidy Hutchinson, to lie in congressional testimony,” says Passantino’s defamation complaint, filed Friday. “This is an insidious lie. Mr. Passantino never coached Ms. Hutchinson to lie, nor did he attempt to shape her testimony in any way.”
Passantino said that before the “allegations made surrounding Ms. Hutchinson,” he had “never been accused by a client, or anyone else, of unethical or illegal behavior.”
This is not entirely true. In 2019, Passintino was among a group of Trump lawyers accused of providing “false information” to the Office of Government Ethics about whether Trump reimbursed former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen for alleged “hush money” payment to Stormy Daniels — a transaction that is the subject of one of four criminal indictments facing the former president.
Passantino also says Hutchinson, in text messages, “expressed contempt for the Select Committee,” and in the complaint, accuses her of “planning independent leaks of information to major media outlets to make sure it was ‘[her] narrative that’s out there first’ without the knowledge of Mr. Passantino.”
The complaint alleges an unspecified amount of damages for Weissmann’s week-old post, which he says has “caused him to lose significant business and income.”
Read Passantino’s complaint below.
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