Kash Patel: Trump adviser appears before grand jury in Mar-a-Lago documents probe



CNN

Kash Patel, a senior adviser to former President Donald Trump who has been deeply involved in the row over classified records Trump has kept since his presidency, recently appeared before a federal grand jury investigating his handling of the Mar-a-Lago documents, sources familiar with the matter said. tell the story to CNN.

Patel spent several hours on the morning of October 13 before a grand jury at the US District Court in Washington, DC. But it’s unclear whether Patel answered the grand jury’s questions or chose not to, citing Fifth Amendment protections within his rights.

He is one of a handful of advisers to Donald Trump who could face legal risk related to the Mar-a-Lago situation, according to court records and sources, although it is unclear whether he is the target of a Justice Department investigation. . Patel served in the administration as a National Security and Defense official, and this summer became one of Trump’s appointees to liaise with the National Archives and the Department of Justice, as the two agencies seek to seize classified records kept by Trump from his presidency.

Trump has said in media interviews that he personally saw the records declassified before he left the presidency, and has argued that he should be able to release classified information.

Attorneys for Patel declined to comment for this story. He has not been charged with any crime.

CNN spotted Patel walking through the federal courtroom mid-morning last Thursday, where he remained in the grand jury area for several hours until about 1:00 p.m. One of his lawyers, Stanley Woodward, withdrew from the trial of Oath Keepers, who is defending him. A lawyer for another defense client to escort Patel, wearing a bold red checkered jacket, down the grand jury assembly area and out of the building. Asked by CNN in court, Woodward declined to say what Patel’s case was about, only confirming that he represented the Trump adviser.

Patel also received a grand jury subpoena last week for documents related to communications related to Trump’s records management, according to other sources, but it is not known how he responded to that subpoena.

The latest activity behind closed doors reveals how the Justice Department continues to pursue a potential indictment in the Mar-a-Lago case. Patel’s grand jury appearance is particularly indicative of the extent to which prosecutors are under attack as they continue to gather information about what happened so far.

Other witnesses looking into Mar-a-Lago have been subpoenaed before the grand jury in recent months, including a flurry of activity around the day of the FBI’s August raid, a source said.

The Trump team is strategizing to respond to ongoing pressure from the DOJ, including an underseal court proceeding, to ensure that all national security records are now secured and returned to the federal government, CNN reported Wednesday.

Prosecutors have previously used a federal grand jury to subpoena documents Trump keeps at Mar-a-Lago and collect surveillance tapes from the estate as part of the investigation, and the grand jury’s existence is acknowledged in court filings. Seeking to protect the secrecy of the investigation and the identity of witnesses from the DOJ.

Prosecutors have made it clear in court filings that are now public that they are investigating both the mishandling of federal records, especially those sensitive to national security and marked as classified, and criminal obstruction of justice as the DOJ has struggled to gain control of the records this year.

The Department of Justice declined to comment.

The Justice Department made the atypical choice to name Patel in an affidavit that obtained a search warrant for the Florida beach club in August.

Patel is named in the document because he argued that he declassified records from his time in the White House.

“I am aware of an article published in Breitbart on May 5, 2022…which states that Kash Patel, described as a former US administration official, stated that other news organizations had found material classified by NARA among the records as ‘misleading’ reports. FPOTUS Mar- from a-Lago to NARA” earlier this year, an FBI agent wrote in an affidavit. “Patel alleged that these reports were misleading because FPOTUS had declassified the materials in question.”

In response to his name being on the court document, Patel accused the Justice Department of deliberately compromising his safety. “Brown Lives Matter. These gangsters are in the know,” Patel, an Indian-American, wrote on the Trump-backed Truth Social platform in late August.

The FBI agent’s assessment of the significance of Patel’s comments has been redacted. The DOJ has since said that the argument about declassifying Trump’s records is moot and irrelevant to their case.

The investigation is just one part of the mounting legal complications surrounding Trump and his advisers.

At the same time Patel was appearing before the grand jury on Mar-a-Lago, a second grand jury and a raft of prosecutors had convened, working on the Jan. 6 investigation and efforts to prevent Joe Biden from winning the presidency. That grand jury obtained testimony from a top adviser to then-Vice President Mike Pence, Marc Short, according to CNN. Short and Patel were occupied at the same time in court.

Earlier, Patel was subpoenaed and questioned by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 US Capitol riot. It is unclear whether Patel has also spoken to another grand jury in Washington, DC, that is investigating January 6.