Kash Patel granted immunity to testify in Mar-a-Lago documents case

Former Department of Defense Chief of Staff Kash Patel speaks during a campaign rally at Minden-Tahoe Airport October 08, 2022 in Minden, Nevada.

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WASHINGTON — Trump adviser Kash Patel has been granted immunity by the Justice Department, NBC News confirmed, after a judge ruled that an offer of immunity was the only way to force Patel to testify in the ongoing probe into classified documents removed from the White House in recent days the first term of office of former President Donald Trump.

Patel is set to testify in the case soon, NBC reported.

Patel’s testimony is believed to be crucial in answering the question of whether Trump released any of the documents he took to his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago. FBI agents removed thousands of government documents, including more than 100 bearing non-disclosure markings, in a raid on Trump’s property in August.

Trump has claimed he released all documents he took before leaving office, but so far the aides who testified before a grand jury say they saw no evidence Trump released anything. Presidents have broad powers to declassify documents, but declassification orders must follow a process, and there is no indication Trump ever initiated that process before taking the documents with him.

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Patel, however, claimed in an August interview with the Wall Street Journal that he personally saw Trump verbally declassify documents.

Patel also pointed out that Trump wanted the documents released because the former president believed the records supported his claim that he had been unfairly targeted by the Justice Department over his campaign’s ties to Russia.

“It had to do with Russiagate. It had to do with the Hillary email scandal. It had to do with a whole bunch of other things,” Patel told the Journal. “And [Trump] said, ‘It’s all cleared.'”

But when Patel was summoned before the grand jury later in October, he reportedly didn’t make the same claims. Instead, he repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

In a case that hinges on whether Trump mishandled state secrets, whether the documents marked confidential were in fact state secrets is crucial.

Patel served on the National Security Council during the Trump administration and became an influential voice in the weeks following the 2020 presidential election, arguing that the president should not accept his election loss to President Joe Biden.

Patel remained on Trump’s staff after the former president moved to Florida, one of the few senior staffers to do so. This spring, Patel was given a seat on the board of directors of Trump Media and Technology Group, the company behind Trump’s social media platform Truth Social.

But a few months later, he and Trump and a group of Trump loyalists all left the board of the ailing company, which is currently the target of an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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