Kash Patel given ‘limited immunity’ after repeatedly using 5th Amendment to evade testimony

Kashyap Patel, former aide to Devin Nunes turned one of Donald Trump’s closest advisors, has been granted limited immunity to secure his testimony before the grand jury investigating the theft of classified documents and their illegal retention at Mar-a-Lago.

The Wall Street Journal reports that in an earlier appearance before the grand jury, Patel repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment, making it impossible to gain meaningful information. Attorneys for the Department of Justice attempted to get the presiding judge to force Patel to provide information relevant to the investigation, and argued that none of the questions they were asking were directed at surfacing any criminal action by Patel, but the judge ruled that Patel could not be made to testify without immunity on the basis of possible future action. Now Patel will get that immunity and will make a second appearance before the grand jury.

When headlines announce that someone will testify on a grant of immunity, it is generally taken to mean that some kind of deal has been reached. That is not the case here. Patel does not want to testify. He remains a hostile witness. He’s just not being given any choice. And the fact that the DOJ is willing to give him immunity to hear what he has to say shows that this investigation has just one real target.

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Patel is the only person who claims to be a witness to Trump declassifying the documents found at Mar-a-Lago. Speaking to Breitbart News, Patel said, “I was there with President Trump when he said, ‘We are declassifying this information.’”

It’s a fair bet that this unique claim was one of the first things that Patel was asked about when he was brought before the grand jury. And one of the first issues was he pulled out the Fifth Amendment. Now he will be facing that question again, and will have nowhere to hide. It’s a good bet that his answer will not match what he told Breitbart.

That is, if Patel chooses to answer at all. The fact that he declared he didn’t have to testify under the protection provided by the Fifth Amendment is interesting just in itself. Because it means that Patel did not try to slip testimony on the basis of executive privilege.

That could mean that the questions Patel was being asked all concerned issues that arose after Trump left office. Or it might mean that Patel was saving that executive privilege claim in his other pocket, for just this occasion.

Patel first gained the favor of Donald Trump by helping former congressman Nunes write a memo that put FBI sources and methods at risk in an effort to undercut the investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Patel became a frequent visitor to the White House and joined Rudy Giuliani in Ukraine in attempting to find dirt on Hunter Biden. As his “Ukraine whisperer,” Trump made Patel an aide to the National Security Council. Trump considered Patel his Ukraine expert during the efforts to blackmail the Ukrainian government that led to Trump’s first impeachment.

Patel next helped get Sec. of Defense Mark Esper fired by declaring Esper’s refusal to send the army against Black Lives Matter protesters “disloyal” to Trump. Trump rewarded Patel’s own loyalty by making him chief of staff to the new Secretary of Defense. Patel was reportedly Trump’s pick to head the CIA—a sharp rise from a congressional aide in just three years—when a little matter of getting tossed from the office got in the way. 

During his time in Washington, Patel developed a well-earned reputation as a man who would cut any corner, and stab any back, to get closer to Trump. As a Pentagon official told The Washington Post last year, Patel was simply “a direct threat to lawful government.” 

He also wrote the “worst children’s book of all time,” in which he is the heroic defender of good king Donald.

More recently, Patel has been in the news as one of Trump’s chief spokesmen on the classified documents that the FBI removed from Mar-a-Lago following a warranted search. Unsurprisingly, Patel has been the leader of the “Trump declassified them all, so he did nothing wrong” choir.

However, no matter how many times Trump has made that claim in public, he hasn’t done so in court. He hasn’t done it, because he knows that it’s a lie. As a quick check of just one recent and relevant case shows… “declassification, even by the President, must follow established procedures.” Declassification of highly compartmentalized documents regarding the nuclear capacity of another nation must follow lengthy and detailed steps leading to declassification, none of which involves Trump “just thinking about it.” 

The immunity grant for Patel took effect on Wednesday, signaling that his testimony before the jury has either already happened, or will happen soon. As with all grand jury testimony, it’s unlikely that any of it will be made public. However, should that jury issue indictments, Patel is likely to be given the opportunity for an encore.

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Intelligence agencies fear that Trump has been leaking information on U.S. spies overseas

In what may be the most shocking story to emerge from the entire Mar-a-Lago document scandal, The New York Times is reporting that officials at intelligence agencies fear that among the classified information Donald Trump stole was details on U.S. assets embedded in foreign countries. The names, locations, and even the existence of such assets is among the most guarded secrets of the nation. But something mysterious has been happening over the last few years, with an unusual number of foreign sources being killed or arrested.

In the past, officials have worried that documents leaked by outlets like WikiLeaks might, either purposely or intentionally, reveal the identity of U.S. sources, putting their lives at risk. But now, intelligence agencies have a greater concern: A man who has a horde of stolen documents, connections to numerous hostile governments, and a frequently expressed disdain for both sources and the intelligence community. Put it all together, and you get one of the most amazing front pages in recent years.

New York Times, Saturday Late Edition, Aug. 27, 2022
Saturday, Aug 27, 2022 · 6:11:20 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Known Timeline: 1. 7/31/2019: Trump spoke with Putin (NYT) 2. 8/3/2019: Trump issued a request for a list of top US spies (The Daily Beast) 3. 10/5/2021: "CIA Admits to Losing Dozens of Informants". (NYT) 4. 8/26/2022: Documents at MAL Could Compromise Human Intel (NYT) 1/5 pic.twitter.com/rqNqRZUQL2

— The Intellectualist (@highbrow_nobrow) August 27, 2022

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In the days leading up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, one fact stood out: The United States had uncannily accurate information about Russia’s plans. It was crystal clear that, not only did the U.S. have a fleet of high resolution satellites and other resources observing Russian movements on the ground, they also had sources inside the Kremlin that were giving the White House a direct pipeline into Vladimir Putin’s every thought.

It’s hard to put a value on that kind of intelligence. In this one case, it’s even possible that Ukraine would not have survived, had it not received early, accurate warnings of both Russian troop build-ups and Putin’s intentions. Thanks to U.S. intelligence sources.

It can take years to establish a reliable source. It can take moments for that point of light to go dark.

Even before he took up residence in the White House, Trump frequently expressed disdain for the intelligence services. Just as he bragged that he was “smarter than all the generals” and declared that his natural instincts allowed him to declare the climate crisis a fraud, Trump has celebrated his “gut” over the combined efforts of agents and analysts. Stories of Trump’s refusal to engage with intelligence briefings have been all too common over the last five years. Trump sneered that his own intelligence chiefs were “naïve” in their assessments of international events, mocked their findings, and insisted they should “go back to school.”

Even more than intelligence agencies, Trump hates whistleblowers. At every instance, he had ridiculed the idea of an anonymous source, insisted that whistleblowers be revealed, then attacked and endangered them once they were known. In his first impeachment, Trump constantly attacked the whistleblower who revealed his attempt to extort Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He didn’t just ridicule the whistleblower continuously, but insisted that the whistleblower testify in public—Republicans in Congress took up that call.

Most tellingly, when Trump learned an alleged name for the whistleblower, he tweeted it over and over.

Pair Trump’s attitude toward the intelligence services, whistleblowers, and witnesses of all kinds, with his incredible disdain for protecting classified information, and it’s a recipe for utter catastrophe. The revelation of a “NOC list,” giving away dozens of undercover operatives in vital roles, may be the subject of adventure fiction, but it seems like an all-too-real possibility for Trump.

And if the nation needed another reminder of just how lax Trump’s actual security at Mar-a-Lago really is, there was the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story this week in which a 33-year-old Russian-speaking Ukrainian immigrant convinced Trump that she was actually an heiress of the Rothschild banking family. 

In addition to the FBI, law enforcement agents in Canada have confirmed that she has been the subject of a major crimes unit investigation in Quebec since February.

But there she was at Mar-a-Lago, playing golf with Trump and Lindsay Graham. She was there. So  were all those documents suspected to hold key information about U.S. sources in some of the most sensitive areas of the world. 

Even the hint that one of these sources might have been revealed can result in an immediate, emergency exfiltration to bring them to safety in the U.S. That means that it doesn’t even take the death or arrest of a U.S. source to cripple intelligence gathering. All it takes is concern that a source might have been compromised.

Donald Trump has provided plenty of cause for concern.