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Is Defense Dept. Official Kash Patel Covering for President Trump’s Inaction Against Rioters on Capitol Hill?

Is Defense Dept. Official Kash Patel Covering for President Trump’s Inaction Against Rioters on Capitol Hill?

  • Former FBI agent Asha Rangappa finds the Trump loyalist’s statement denying the President’s reluctance to deploy the National Guard to the Capitol on Jan. 6, to be specious, at best.

It has been extensively reported and corroborated that President Trump rebuffed initial requests to deploy the National Guard to the Capitol on Jan. 6. However, an Indian American conservative and fierce Trump loyalist has issued a statement denying the President’s reluctance to send the National Guard. In a statement issued on Jan. 7, Kashyap “Kash” Patel, Chief of Staff to Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller said Trump and the Acting Secretary of Defense spoke “multiple times this week about the request for National Guard personnel in D.C. During these conversations the President conveyed to the Acting Secretary that he should take any necessary steps to support civilian law enforcement requests in securing the Capitol and federal buildings.”

A CNN report, quoting a senior defense official, noted that the Trump administration had earlier said that civilian law enforcement would be tasked with the protection of federal facilities. But the Department of Defense received requests for additional support from the National Guard on Jan. 6, as the situation became increasingly dangerous. As per the CNN report, on Jan. 4, Miller approved a request from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser “to deploy D.C. National Guard forces to the city to support local authorities during pro-Trump demonstrations scheduled for Tuesday (Jan. 5)  and Wednesday (Jan. 6), though the 340 forces were not tasked with conducting direct law enforcement missions.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican said on Jan. 7 that  he immediately mobilized state police and national guard members when asked to go to Washington to help protect the U.S. Capitol, but he was repeatedly denied permission, wasting precious time, before finally being authorized to send help by a defense official.

Considering the evidence and reports that suggest Trump’s reluctance to send the National Guards, Patel’s tweet comes as a stark contrast. “I have major questions about Kash Patel’s role in all this,” says Asha Rangappa, a senior lecturer at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, who served as a special agent in the New York Division of the FBI, specializing in counterintelligence investigations. She has been a contributor on numerous television and radio outlets, and is now a legal and national security analyst for CNN. “I cannot speculate the role,” she told American Kahani, adding that given Patel’s history on lying on behalf of the president, “he will emerge as a key person when the investigation [on the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill attack] begins.”

Asha Rangappa, a senior lecturer at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, also served as a special agent in the New York Division of the FBI.

Alluding to Patel’s Ukraine debacle, Rangappa, in a Jan. 7 tweet said: “It’s important to remember when we try to get to the bottom of this that Kash Patel tried to obstruct the Mueller investigation and lied and represented himself as a ‘Ukraine expert’ while on the NSC … His account sounds very fishy to me.” 

Citing a Jan. 7 tweet by The New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman, which said, “Trump initially rebuffed and resisted requests to mobilize the National Guard, according to a person with knowledge of the events. It required intervention from White House officials to get it done,” Rangappa noted that the “Kash Patel story does not square with this.”

Ukrainian Materials

Patel has previously been in the crosshairs of officials investigating President Trump’s alleged dealings with Ukranian officials. In October 2019, Patel was accused of running a secret backchannel to Trump on Ukraine matters. Trump’s former top Russia adviser, Fiona Hill, told impeachment investigators that she heard Trump thought Patel was his Ukraine director and that he was slipping Ukraine-related “materials” to the president outside of the normal National Security Council (NSC) channels. “Patel helped investigate the theory that Ukrainians were responsible for spreading information about Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election,” the New York Times reported. “Mr. Trump has returned to the accusation of Ukrainian meddling repeatedly in public and private conversations,” the report said.

Patel later denied ever discussing Ukraine with the president. “A number of media outlets have falsely reported that, as senior director for counterterrorism on the National Security Council, I have communicated with President Trump regarding Ukraine,” Patel told Axios at the time.” At no time have I ever communicated with the president on any matters involving Ukraine. Any reporting to the contrary, and any testimony provided to Congress, is simply false, and any current or former staff who suggest I have raised or discussed Ukraine matters with President Trump, are similarly misinformed or spreading outright falsehoods.”

Rangappa says Patel has a long history of being on the wrong side, particularly since 2017, when he was an aide to Rep. David Nunes (R-Calif.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Patel played “a very large role” in Nunes’ attempt to undermine the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, she 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 role as an investigator for Nunes is highlighted in “The Plot Against the President: The True Story of How Congressman Devin Nunes Uncovered the Biggest Political Scandal in U.S. History,” by Lee Smith, a conservative journalist. “The book asserts without evidence that the so-called deep state of career government bureaucrats and members of the news media embarked on a grand scheme to thwart Mr. Trump from being president,” the New York Times reported. 

Along with Patel’s involvement in the Russia and Ukraine scandals, his rise in the ranks within the administration is sketchy, Rangapapa observes. Patel has held a number of roles in the Trump administration, including on the National Security Council staff, in the office of former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, and most recently as a top White House counterterrorism official.

Inexplicable Appointment

In December, Patel was “inexplicably” named to the Defense Department’s transition to the next administration, Rangappa said. He was accused of blocking some career officials and experts from giving information about key defense issues to the transition team and telling political appointees to take the lead instead. “In some instances, the Chief of Staff, Kash Patel, who was assigned to the Pentagon after last month’s election, has recast policy descriptions to include content that reflects favorably on Trump’s policies before the information is shared with the Biden transition,” NBC News reported. “He told everybody we’re not going to cooperate with the transition team,” one of the former officials told NBC, adding that Patel has “put a lot of restrictions on it.”

Calling Patel’s appointment to the National Security Council in August 2019 as “incredibly odd,” Rangappa said he had no prior experience to be on such an important post. As the senior director of Counter-terrorism Directorate of the NSC in the White House, Patel was among the small group of aides who traveled with the President extensively during the final stretch of the campaign, the Washington Post reported.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Patel more recently was instrumental in persuading Trump to fire Secretary of Defense Mark Mark Esper. Along with John McEntee, who heads the White House Personnel Office, “Patel argued that Esper displayed disloyalty by saying he would oppose a request by the president to deploy military troops to Washington during racial justice protests in June and for other reasons,” the Journal reported, quoting an official. The Journal also reported that Patel traveled early last year to Damascus, Syria, “for secret talks with the Syrian government on freeing at least two Americans believed to be held by President Bashar al-Assad.”

When Patel was appointed Miller’s chief of staff last November, the Wall Street Journal said that some people in the Pentagon had noted that “the a White House ally would be near the department’s top leadership. The Defense Secretary’s Chief of Staff is one of the most important civilian posts in the Pentagon because the occupant of the position shapes the secretary’s agenda.” 

Kashyap “Kash” Patel with his parents at Modi-Trump rally in Ahmedabad in February 2020.

Patel to Helm the FBI?

Patel’s rise in the administration and possible new appointments were mentioned in a Dec. 26, 2020 opinion piece in the Washington Post 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. 

See Also

Last month, Patel filed a $50 million lawsuit against CNN and several of its reporters for allegedly defaming him. Patel is currently the Chief of Staff to Defense Secretary Christopher Miller. In his lawsuit, Patel alleged that between Nov. 24 and Dec. 4, CNN  published a series of articles that “contain a series of false and defamatory statements” about him, describing him as “a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist,” according to the complaint reported by Fox News. The lawsuit, filed in a Virginia court, named CNN reporters Barbara Starr, Zachary Cohen, Ryan Browne, Alex, Marquardt and Nicole Gauette.

In October 2019, he sued the New York Times, claiming the newspaper falsely accused him of being a White House back channel to Ukraine. Patel sought $44.9 million in damages, in the defamation suit filed in November, 2019 in state court in Fairfax, Virginia. “On October 23, 2019, in an article published online and tweeted to millions, (Adam) Goldman (the reporter) and the Times, directly and by implication, falsely accused Kash Patel of lying, deceit, federal crimes, and illegal, conniving and unethical conduct,” the suit claimed.The story was headlined “White House Aides Feared that Trump Had Another Ukraine Back Channel. “Senior national security officials grew concerned about Kash Patel, a colleague who had been involved in Republicans’ efforts to undermine the Russia investigation,” the story said.It said the officials “grew alarmed” after hearing that Trump referred to Patel as one of his Ukraine policy advisers and that the president wanted to discuss “related documents with him.”

Patel filed a similar lawsuit against Politico Nov. 18 for “working in concert” with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) Schiff to leak allegedly false information from closed-door depositions.

Patel, was born and raised in Garden City, New York to parents with Gurajati roots who immigrated from East Africa — who came to the U.S. by way of Canada in 1970. He graduated from the University of Richmond in 2002 with a B.A. in history and criminal justice. He obtained an International Law Certificate from University College London Faculty of Laws in 2004, and his Juris Doctor from Pace University School of Law in 2005.

After his schooling in New York and college in Richmond, Virginia, and law school in New York, Kash Patel went to Florida where he was a state public defender for four years and then federal public defender for another four years. From Florida, he moved to Washington, D.C. as a terrorism prosecutor at the Department of Justice. Here he was an international terrorism prosecutor for about three and a half years, and worked on cases all over the world, in America in East Africa as well as in Uganda and Kenya. 

While still employed by the Department of Justice, he went as a civilian to join Special Operations Command at the Department of Defense. At the Pentagon, he sat as the Department of Justice’s lawyer with Special Forces people and worked inter-agency collaborative targeting operations around the world. In 2014, Kash joined the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), National Security Division (NSD) – Counter Terrorism Section as a Terrorism Prosecutor. In this important position, he ran a wide range of high-profile counterterrorism prosecutions.

Bhargavi Kulkarni has been a journalist for nearly two decades. She has a degree in English literature and French. She is also an adventure sport enthusiast, and in her free time, she likes to cook, bake, bike and hike.

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