- The former Pentagon official and House Intelligence Committee aide says he led the effort to obtain documents through the National Archives months before the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago.
Kashyap “Kash” Patel is one of the staunchest critics of the FBI raid at the Florida home of former president Trump. He has been on every right-wing television and other broadcast media making the case for his former boss’s right to hold on to the documents, even as many political observers described his defense as convoluted. But what is increasingly becoming apparent is that not only Patel was himself a key figure in the events before and after the transfer of classified documents from the White House to Mar-a-Lago, but he has also become a fixture in Trump’s post-presidential affairs.
In an April 2021 profile in The Washington Post, columnist David Ignatius described Patel as an “almost a ‘Zelig’ figure in Trump’s campaign against the deep state.” He keeps “reappearing in different guises,” Ignatius said about Patel on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Aug. 23.
A look at Patel’s steady rise in the Trump administration shows how he came about from a mere staffer to an insider. It is also increasingly evident that Trump’s dependence on Patel has increased since the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill insurrection, and his election lies and now the transfer gate. Currently, Patel is a director of Trump Media and Technology Group, which runs Truth Social, headed by Nunes, his former boss.
The Indian American has held a number of senior jobs in the Trump administration. As a top adviser to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, he had led the lawmaker’s efforts to rebut special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. He later joined the staff of the National Security Council, where he became the senior director for counterterrorism, and then was appointed senior adviser at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. He was named chief of staff to Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher C. Miller, a few days after the general election.
In January 2021, there were reports that Trump had considered Patel for appointment as acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency to replace Gina Haspel. However, “Trump’s fall plan fell apart last April after Attorney General Bill Barr threatened to resign over it,” as reported by Politico at the time.
Last May, Patel came quite close to getting one of the top positions at the FBI. According to a report in Politico, last spring, former president Donald Trump sought to name Patel, the Deputy Director of FBI, when he was planning to oust FBI Director Christopher Wray, and replace him with counterintelligence head William Evanina.
As Ignatius noted on MSNBC, in the last few months, “Patel has emerged as a key point of contact for Trump dealing with this question of classified documents being kept at Mar-a-Lago.” As early as May, “months before the subpoenas or reach warrants,” Ignatius noted how Patel was “publicly making claims that Trump had unilateral right to declassify material as president.”
On June 19, Patel, Trump designated Patel to be one of his official representatives to the National Archives. In an Aug. 11 podcast with conservative journalist John Solomon, Patel also disclosed that he had led an effort to obtain documents through the National Archives months before the FBI’s raid. He said he and Solomon both have “been on a mission” as “the president’s representatives to the National Archives” to prove Trump had declassified the documents seized by the FBI.
In several recent interviews, and in an episode of “Kash’s Corner” released on Aug. 14, he accused bureaucrats at the DOJ of blocking Trump’s attempt to declassify federal records. “The timing is interesting, that now all of a sudden there’s a National Archives issue related to this raid at Mar-a-Lago.” Patel has contended that among the seized files at Mar-a-Lago were documents connected to the FBI and DOJ’s investigation of contacts between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign.
In a statement posted on Truth Social on Aug. 19, Patel said these documents were among those declassified by Trump in the closing days of his presidency. He has argued that Trump had unilateral power to declassify anything, and in fact did so in a sweeping fashion with verbal and written orders.
Now, as the saga of the transfer gate unfolds, it’ll be interesting to see how Patel, who so far has been a leading advocate of Trump’s defense, continues to use his position as “captain of the ship” to advance his former boss’s claims.