Trump is ‘dangerously close’ to buying loyalty of his former aides with legal fees: MSNBC’s Katie Phang

On MSNBC Friday, anchor Katie Phang and former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti discussed the implications of a new report that former President Donald Trump’s PAC is shelling out legal fees to January 6 probe subjects — and whether this means the former president is trying to buy off their loyalty and silence.

Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows who recently testified about the former president’s behavior on January 6, recently extricated herself from a representation deal with attorneys tied to Trump — and the report this week revealed “more than a dozen” other officials have similar arrangements.

“Think about this,” said Phang, herself a former prosecutor. “The change in counsel, there was clearly a line of demarcation, almost like that line in the sand of saying I am actually going to now come forward and publicly speak, not because, we know that Donald Trump, the pack and the political organization and his allies, he is funding legal fees, not only for something like Cassidy Hutchinson but for several other people who have been witnesses. Ethically, it’s okay, you can have a third party pay legal fees, you know that as a lawyer, Renato, but don’t you think don’t you think you get so dangerously close to the idea that you have to remain loyal to them? So isn’t that an idea that maybe she owed it to him because she was getting her fees paid by Donald Trump?”

“Here is what I would say,” said Mariotti. “But, as you pointed out, Katie, it is ethical to have someone else pay for your legal fees. Obviously when someone is paying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of legal fees at your behalf, there is now gratitude or potentially an obligation that you feel. Obviously I can’t speak for Miss Hutchinson, but I think that there could be this element where you feel like there is an incentive or you feel wrong going against that person.”

Mariotti then explained another key reason why Hutchinson felt a need to get out of the legal arrangement with pro-Trump attorneys.

“I think it is also fair to say that while it is certainly ethical and very routine for attorneys to be paid in investigations of all sorts, it is the case that when counsel is, that they connected with or coordinated with other counsel, whether it is a joint defense or some other sort of arrangement, there’s a lot of communication that takes place,” said Mariotti. “I’m sure Miss Hutchinson has the inkling or the feeling that her attorney was probably coordinating with other attorneys who are then representing other witnesses that are a part of Trump world, and anything she said would get past to those other powers that be. potentially before she had a chance to say something publicly. So I suspect she did not feel comfortable and that is why she did what she did.”

Watch below:

Katie Phang and Renato Mariotti discuss Trump legal fees