Political News

Trump Organization hires former White House ethics lawyer to handle Hill investigations

Posted January 11, 2019 4:28 p.m. EST

— The Trump Organization has hired a former White House lawyer to assist with congressional inquiries into President Donald Trump's business interests.

Stefan Passantino, the former White House deputy counsel who was responsible for overseeing compliance with ethics and conflict-of-interest rules, will handle its responses to Democratic investigations, Passantino informed Congress in a letter sent to the House Oversight Committee on Friday and obtained by CNN.

Passantino left the White House last year to join Michael Best & Friedrich, a Milwaukee-based firm headed by former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.

Passantino will work closely with the Trump Organization's chief general counsel Alan Garten and chief compliance counsel George Sorial, according to sources familiar with the arrangement.

Passantino plans to recuse himself from issues he worked on while in the White House, according to one of the sources.

While serving in the administration, Passantino was tasked with overseeing the White House ethics program, which included certifying financial disclosures for White House staff. In addition to recusing from matters he handled in that role, he will not be communicating with the executive branch, the source added.

In November, CNN reported that Trump Organization executives were preparing for the investigations, including sending a reminder to staff to preserve records, according to a person familiar with the conversations. They also discussed bringing on additional outside counsel, that person said, particularly a firm with expertise in government investigations.