Cassidy Hutchinson Read Up on Watergate, Then Told the Truth

Transcript of Cassidy Hutchinson's interviews with Jan. 6 panel is out
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2022 7:11 AM CST
Pressure From Trump Allies Left Witness 'Genuinely Scared'
A page from an interview with Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, released by the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, is photographed on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson told the House Select Committee that a lawyer connected to former President Trump tried to influence her testimony around Jan. 6 to the point that she felt she "had Trump looking over my shoulder." Hutchinson delivered bombshell testimony, describing Trump as lunging at a Secret Service agent who refused to let him join his supporters at the Capitol and backing chants calling for the hanging of Vice President Pence. But according to a transcript of her witness interviews released Thursday, Hutchinson told the committee in September that Stefan Passantino, a former Trump White House lawyer who initially represented her with funding from Trump allies, tried to shape her testimony to be favorable to Trump.

"We all know you’re loyal," she recalled Passantino as saying. "We just want to focus on protecting the president," she said Passantino instructed her, per the New York Times. Hutchinson—who said she couldn't afford another lawyer—said Passantino also told her to say she didn't recall the episode involving the Secret Service agent if it came up; she says it did, and that she responded as Passantino had advised. She did make clear that "Stefan never told me to lie. He specifically told me, 'I don't want you to perjure yourself, but "I don’t recall" isn’t perjury,'" per CNN. She later testified that the prospect of Trump believing her to be disloyal "genuinely scared me," and that she worried Trump allies would "ruin my life," so she did as she was told.

When she told Passantino that she felt she'd lied in the interview, she said he told her, "They don't know what you know" and promised to get her "a really good job in Trump world." (Passantino now says he believed Hutchinson to be "truthful and cooperative with the committee" when he represented her.) NBC News reports that by April, she was battling a guilty conscience and started reading about Watergate whistleblowers, eventually reading a book co-authored by Nixon aide Alex Butterfield three times. "He talked about a lot of the same things that I felt like I was experiencing ... but he ended up doing the right thing." Hutchinson then had a contact reach out to the committee about scheduling one more deposition, in which she divulged what she knew.

story continues below

That included accounts of Trump telling aides that he knew he lost the election in the weeks before Jan. 6. She said White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told her on Jan. 2, "He knows he lost. But we are going to keep trying." She suggested Meadows was also looking to influence her testimony. "Mark wants you to know that he knows you're loyal and he knows you'll do the right thing tomorrow and that you're going to protect him and the boss," his aide Ben Williamson told her on the night before her first interview with the committee, according to the transcript. (More Cassidy Hutchinson stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.