- The Indian American is among crucial witnesses to shed light on the government’s response to the Jan. 6 Capitol assault and former President Donald Trump’s reaction.
Some senior Trump officials, including former Pentagon official and longtime House Intelligence Committee aide Kashyap “Kash” Patel, had their text messages deleted, that could shed light on the events leading up to and surrounding the Jan. 6 insurrection, news reports said, citing court filings from the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army. “These officials had their phones wiped at the end of former President Trump’s term,” a CNN report said.
The confirmation by lawyers was made in an Aug. 2 court filing “tied to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by American Oversight, a government watchdog group,” according to a Bloomberg report. The group has been seeking Jan. 6-related records from Patel, acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, and former Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, the report added.
The three are among those considered “crucial witnesses for understanding the government’s response to the Jan. 6 Capitol assault and former President Donald Trump’s reaction to the breach,” the CNN report said. “All three were involved in the Defense Department’s response to sending National Guard troops to the U.S. Capitol as the riot was unfolding,” the report added. However, “there is no suggestion that the officials themselves erased the records,” the report added.
CNN noted that “the government’s assertion in the filings that the officials’ text messages from that day were not preserved is the latest blow to the efforts to bring transparency to the events of Jan. 6. It comes as the Department of Homeland Security is also under fire for the apparent loss of messages from the Secret Service that day.”
Patel was serving as chief of staff to Miller during the attack after Trump appointed him to replace Mark T. Esper as the top Pentagon official. In that role, he was responsible for leading the secretary’s mission at the department, including his executive staff and providing counsel to the secretary on all matters concerning the department’s operations.
It was widely reported at the time that Patel was in constant contact with former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on the day of the riots. He was also involved “in discussions among senior Pentagon officials before and during the attack regarding security at the Capitol,” The New York Times reported, citing documents provided by the Defense Department.
A day after the attack, Patel had issued a statement denying Trump’s reluctance to deploy the National Guard to the Capitol on Jan. 6. Patel said he 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.”
Last December, Axios reported that CIA Director Gina 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.”
The Indian American “who flew largely beneath the radar during the Trump administration,” rose from an obscure Hill staffer to become one of the most powerful players in the national security apparatus.
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.
He has previously been in the crosshairs of officials investigating Trump’s alleged dealings with Ukrainian officials. In October 2019, Patel was accused of running a secret back channel 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.
He 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.”
Before his Pentagon appointment, Patel served as the deputy assistant to the president and senior director for Counterterrorism (CT) at the National Security Council (NSC). He also served as principal deputy to the Acting Director of National Intelligence, “where he oversaw the operations of all 17 intelligence community agencies and provided the president’s daily briefing,” per his Department of Defense profile.
Before joining the NSC, Patel served as the National Security Advisor and Senior Counsel for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), which he joined following his tenure as a terrorism prosecutor at the Department of Justice (DOJ). He also served as the DOJ Liaison Officer to Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), “working with our nation’s most prestigious counterterrorism units to conduct collaborative global targeting operations against high-value terrorism targets,” his DOD profile says.
Patel began his career as a public defender, trying scores of complex cases ranging from murder to narco-trafficking, to complex financial crimes in jury trials in state and federal courts.
A native of New York, Patel completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Richmond before returning to New York to earn his law degree, along with a Certificate in International Law from University College London Faculty of Laws in the United Kingdom.