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How Trump Loyalist Kash Patel Almost Became the Acting Director of the CIA

How Trump Loyalist Kash Patel Almost Became the Acting Director of the CIA

  • The President reportedly backed off his plot to get rid of CIA Director Gina Haspel and hoist Patel in her position at the very last minute.

A plan to get Kashyap “Kash” Patel to head the CIA is the latest twist in the saga surrounding the Indian American conservative and fierce Trump loyalist. Reporting an already plotted plan, news networks like Axios, CNN and MSNBC say that a move to replace the CIA Director Gina Haspel with Patel, the Acting Chief of Staff to Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher C. Miller, had been brewing since December. 

Patel, who has held a number of senior jobs in the administration, was named Chief of Staff to Miller a few days after the general election.

The story, first reported by Axios, says that CIA Director Haspel “threatened to resign” in early December after she became aware of President Trump’s plan to name Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy. Trump had recently named Patel as the chief of staff to Miller, after firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper, six days after the election. Patel’s appointment was shocking, Axios noted, adding that “Patel had no military experience, and was widely seen as a political mercenary bent on punishing the president’s perceived ‘Deep State’ foes.”

According to the Axios report, Trump has been contemplating Haspel’s removal, and “as he grew to distrust her.” He “wanted a loyal ally at the top of the CIA,” the Axios report said. He wanted to “force out” CIA Deputy Director Vaughn Bishop, and replace him with Patel, “and if Haspel quit in protest, then Patel or another loyalist would lead the CIA.” The orchestrated plan almost came to fruition when Haspel had it known that she would quit if Patel was made her deputy director.

However, on Dec. 11, 2020, the day Trump planned to name Patel Deputy Director of the CIA, his plans were thwarted when Haspel decided for the first time in weeks to attend the President’s daily intelligence briefing. After the meeting, when Vice President Mike Pence and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone defended Haspel and counseled against getting rid of Haspel, Trump changed his plans and decided to call off Patel’s appointment. But by then Patel was already informed of his likely job at Langley, and the onus of informing Patel of the order reversal fell on Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

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All this came to light on Jan. 15 when MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a Trump supporter, and lawyer Sidney Powell, visited Trump for his final Friday afternoon in the Oval Office on Jan. 15. Washington Post photographer Jabin Botsford caught a picture of Lindell’s notes before he entered the West Wing. Among the pillow entrepreneur’s prescriptions for the president was the eye-catching line: “Move Kash Patel to CIA Acting.”

That is the closest an Indian American or any person of color came to head the Central Intelligence Agency, the largest and the most powerful intelligence gathering organization in the world.

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