- The former GOP congressional aide and Trump loyalist said journalist David Ignatius’ claims were “the height of hypocrisy and careless journalism.”
Trump loyalist Kash Patel has denied facing a federal investigation for unauthorized disclosures of classified information. Slamming an oped in The Washington Post, which said that the former GOP congressional aide is the target of a federal investigation, Patel told One America News (OAN) Network this week that Washington Post columnist David Ignatius’ claims were “the height of hypocrisy and careless journalism.”
In the report, Ignatius, a top rated reporter on national security affairs, quoted two sources familiar with the probe who confirmed that Patel is being investigated for unauthorized disclosures of classified information. The investigation was sparked by a complaint made by an intelligence agency, according to Ignatius.
In the OAN interview, Patel said Ignatius was “the same individual who knowingly published classified information back in 2016, 2017 to kick off the Russiagate conspiracy.” After those articles came out, Patel said he “spent the next two years combating it to make sure that the truth came out.” Noting that Ignatius’ latest article “may possibly contain even more classified information accusing me, the lead investigator, of possibly being under investigation,” Patel said, “I think that is the height of hypocrisy and careless journalism, and that is why the American public cannot stand the mainstream media.”
In The Post op-ed, Ignatius said Patel, now 41, “appeared so frequently, in so many incarnations, that he was almost a ‘Zelig’ figure in Trump’s confrontation against what he imagined as the deep state.”Patel “flew largely beneath the radar during the Trump administration,” and in the span of four years, “rose from an obscure Hill staffer to become one of the most powerful players in the national security apparatus,” Ignatius claimed. He is known to have repeatedly pressed intelligence agencies to release secrets that, in his view, showed that the president was being persecuted unfairly by critics. “The saga of his battles with the intelligence bureaucracy shows how the last administration empowered its lieutenants to challenge what it saw as the deep state,” Ignatius said.
In his detailed analysis, Ignatius traced Patel’s career graph during the Trump administration and his ascent on the power spectrum. At the start of the Trump administration, Patel was senior counsel for Rep. Devin Nunes when the California Republican chaired the House Intelligence Committee in 2017 and 2018. During that time Patel “emerged as a leading critic of the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into the Trump campaign’s alleged links to Russia,” Ignatius said. Patel then joined Trump’s National Security Council staff as senior director for counterterrorism. In 2020, he was a senior adviser to acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell and his successor, John Ratcliffe, helping lead their efforts to remove senior career intelligence officers.
Patel played “a very large role” in Nunes’ attempt to undermine the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Ignatius says. Patel flew to England in the summer of 2108, where he tried unsuccessfully to meet with Christopher Steele, the author of the Steele dossier that purported to detail links between the Trump campaign and Russia. Patel was a primary author of a 2018 memo, released by Nunes over the objections of the FBI, that accused federal investigators of bias against Trump and his team.
“Patel’s most prominent role was his final job, as chief of staff for acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller in the administration’s last two months,” Ignatius said. In that position, he challenged the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, and very nearly became acting director of the CIA himself. In December, Trump briefly tried to remove Haspel from the CIA and replace her with Patel. Haspel’s apparent crime was that for months she had been resisting efforts by Trump and Patel to declassify the information he had gathered for Nunes back in the 2018 report.
Ignatius noted that “as with so many other still-mysterious aspects of the Trump presidency, there’s a riddle at the center of Patel’s many activities. Beyond the basic goal of advancing Trump’s personal agenda, was there a larger mission? Was there a systematic plan, for example, to gain control of the nation’s intelligence and military command centers as part of Trump’s effort to retain the presidency, despite his loss in the November 2020 election? Or was this a more capricious campaign driven by Trump’s personal pique and score-settling without a clear strategy?”
Patel’s rise in the administration and possible new appointments were mentioned in a Dec. 26, 2020 opinion piece in the Washington Post, also by columnist David Ignatius. Warning that the country “will be in the danger zone until the formal certification of Joe Biden’s election victory on Jan. 6, because potential domestic and foreign turmoil could give President Trump an excuse to cling to power,” he speculated that “the Pentagon would be the locus of any such action,” due to “some unusual recent moves” which suggest “pro-Trump officials might be mobilizing to secure levers of power.” Citing Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin, he mentioned Patel’s “abrupt” return home from an Asia trip in early December. “Patel didn’t explain, but in mid-December Trump discussed with colleagues the possibility that Patel might replace Christopher A. Wray as FBI director,” Ignatius said, quoting an unnamed official “Wray remains in his job,” he said.
Patel also spoke on OAN about John Durham, Special Counsel for the Department of Justice to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia collusion probe. When asked if he still held out hope for Durham’s inquiry, Patel responded: “”I have some hope, it is hope as you say, and if and when the Durham report is produced, to have it not released to the American people, that would be the epitome of the politicization of the Department of Justice and the FBI as they did in 2016 to President Trump.”