Trump PACs paid $2 million this year to law firms representing January 6 witnesses

The biggest recipient of payments from Trump’s political committees is Elections, LLC, a firm that employs several former Trump campaign lawyers and former White House lawyer Stefan Passantino, who at one point represented a key hearing witness, Cassidy Hutchinson. Passantino hasn’t answered CNN’s previous questions about his representation of Hutchinson.

Elections LLC has received more than $1.6 million this year, including $1 million that Trump’s Make America Great Again PAC paid in May to an entity called, E LLC Iolta, which shares a Washington, DC, address with the firm, a recent filing shows.

The Daily Beast first reported the $1 million May payment to E LLC Iolta. CNN has requested comment from Elections, LLC.

The CNN tally examined legal fees paid in this calendar year by the Make America Great Again PAC and Trump’s main political vehicle, Save America PAC. The filings do not show which specific lawyers in the firm received payments, and the filings don’t explain what the law firms did for the Trump committees beyond the broad description of “legal consulting” or “legal expenses.”

It’s impossible to tell from the filings with the Federal Election Commission whether payments to these firms specifically covered work representing witnesses before the January 6 committee.

Law firms represent key players

Other firms paid by Trump-aligned committees include Abel Bean Law, which has represented current Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich, and JPRowley Law, which has represented conservative lawyer and Trump ally Cleta Mitchell, as well as former White House adviser Peter Navarro, one of the President’s fiercest supporters.

Navarro has been indicted on contempt of Congress charges for failing to comply with the January 6 committee’s subpoena. He pleaded not guilty.

Abel Bean has been paid more than $241,000 this year by Trump’s leadership PAC, Save America.

In a statement to CNN, Abel Bean Law co-founder Michael Abel would not confirm or deny that the money was used for January 6 witnesses.

“In circumstances in which a third party may pay all or some of the legal fees on behalf of a client we are representing, we provide independent legal advice to our client, we are loyal to our client, and we always serve our client’s best interests,” Abel told CNN.

CNN has confirmed that the work of one firm, Garber Group, is tied to the January 6 committee. According to federal records, that firm got more than $91,000 from Trump’s political groups this year.

“The PACs are paying The Garber Group for the legal fees of witnesses who have cooperated with the committee’s investigation,” a source familiar with the matter told CNN.

The law firm of Timothy Parlatore, who represents Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner who has been deposed by the committee, has been paid $25,000 by Trump’s Save America PAC. Parlatore told CNN that the payments to his firm were not used to pay for legal services connected to the panel’s investigation, but declined to say what they were used for.

“I am a private lawyer and I get paid for doing legal work,” Parlatore said in an interview. “This is not on behalf of me representing anybody before the January 6 committee.”

CNN also has requested comment from JPRowley Law, which has received more than $97,000 in payments this year from the Trump committees.

The moves by Trump’s political organization to open his substantial post-presidency war chest to witnesses involved in the January 6 probe have raised questions about the former President’s ability to influence testimony as the panel delves into his conduct.

Jan. 6 panel members raise questions

CNN has previously reported that Trump’s team also has been involved in discussions about a legal defense fund, created by the nonprofit arm of the American Conservative Union, to support aides targeted by the House panel. ACU chairman Matt Schlapp said he has worked with the former President’s aides to determine which individuals subpoenaed by the select committee should receive help from the fund.

“We talked about the hundreds of millions of dollars that the former President raised,” California Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat who sits on the committee, told CNN recently. “Some of that money is being used to pay for lawyers for witnesses. And it’s not clear that that arrangement is one that is without coercion potential for some of those witnesses.”

Some January 6 committee members have singled out the legal representation of Hutchinson, a former White House aide who changed lawyers in early June. After the switch, Hutchinson ramped up her cooperation with the panel and delivered bombshell testimony about the former President’s conduct on January 6 at an in-person hearing.

Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, a member of the committee, called Hutchinson “an important example of one who decided to get a new lawyer and then to come back and to testify.”

“If there are witnesses out there who believe that their lawyer is working cross-purposes with their obligation to tell the truth, they should work to rectify it,” the Maryland Democrat told CNN’s Jake Tapper.