Capitol Riot Witness, Washington, United States – 28 Jun 2022

LDAD Files Ethics Complaint Against
Cassidy Hutchinson’s Attorney Stafan C. Passantino

June 28, 2021

Mar 6, 2023

Photo: Jacquelyn Martin AP/Shutterstock

BOSTON – Lawyers Defending American Democracy has filed a detailed ethics complaint seeking the disbarment of Stefan C. Passantino, the lawyer initially representing key witness Cassidy Hutchinson before the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol. Prominent DC lawyers have joined as signers to this complaint.

Prior to his representation of Ms. Hutchinson, Attorney Passantino served as a member of former president Donald J. Trump’s Office of White House Counsel, including as his ethics advisor. The 18-page complaint meticulously sets forth the evidence against Attorney Passantino that demonstrates how he failed in his duty to represent his client, and instead protected the best interests of the former President. In doing so, Attorney Passantino interfered with the Committee’s efforts to unearth the facts behind the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

James McHugh, a principal author of the complaint and former MA Appeals Court judge, states:

“Attorney Passantino repeatedly directed Ms. Hutchinson to not be forthcoming to the January 6 Committee. He continually exploited the power imbalance in his representation of a young witness, who was gravely concerned about exposing herself to criminal liability for perjury, by reassuring her that she was doing the right thing and offering false hope that he would help find her a job. As a former ethics counsel, Attorney Passantino’s wrongdoing is particularly egregious.”

LDAD Board member and former American Bar Association president Martha Barnett noted:

“Attorney Passantino tried to keep a pivotal witness from providing credible information to a governmental body investigating one of the most consequential events in our Nation’s history. His attempt to interfere with the administration of justice in the ways that he did undermine the carefully crafted rules guiding the attorney-client relationship and even cross lines into possibly criminal behavior.”

As the complaint states:

“It is a testament to Ms. Hutchinson’s character that she overcame Passantino’s pervasive misconduct and testified truthfully, becoming perhaps the key witness before the Committee. Her service to the interests of American democracy and the rule of law cannot be overstated. At the same time, Attorney Passantino’s efforts to obstruct and interfere with her contribution to the legislative and historical record cannot be rationalized, dismissed, or ignored if our professional code of ethics is to serve its critical purposes."

February 2, 2024 Update: The complaints were dismissed based on a lack of sufficient evidence; Ms. Hutchinson refused to participate in the investigations. The Disciplinary Counsel for DC entered into an agreement with Mr. Passantino in which he agreed to take two Continuing Legal Education courses on legal ethics resulting from his failure to provide an engagement letter to Ms. Hutchinson.





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