Kash Patel’s Immunized Testimony Is about Premeditation, Not (Just) about Declassification

Thankfully, the NYT has written a second story reporting that DOJ is considering asking Beryl Howell to give Kash Patel use immunity in the Trump stolen document investigation, because I was about to go back and write about the first one.

Earlier this month, the prosecutors summoned Mr. Patel to testify before a grand jury in Washington hearing evidence about whether Mr. Trump had mishandled classified documents and obstructed justice when he refused to return the records to the government.

Mr. Patel repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. In response, prosecutors asked a top federal judge in Washington to compel Mr. Patel to answer questions — a move Mr. Patel’s lawyers have strenuously opposed. The question now is whether the Justice Department will grant him immunity in order to secure his testimony.

The first was newsworthy — as I laid out in this thread and as Jay Kuo wrote up in this piece — for its silence about the fact that Stanley Woodward is the defense attorney for both people described in the story (the other was Walt Nauta, the valet who moved documents around before Evan Corcoran did a search of what was left).

Woodward represents a slew of key defendants who might serve as firewalls in a larger and much more damning crime: in addition to Patel and Nauta, Dan Scavino, Peter Navarro, Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs (who has ties to Roger Stone), and the guy who kicked off the entire riot, Ryan Samsel. Woodward’s a decent defense attorney (not least because, unlike many Trump attorneys, he is a defense attorney), but he’s got a conspiracy streak that should be accounted for when reporting on his representation of events.

Both NYT stories portray Patel’s unnamed attorneys as resisting the move to immunize him.

In response, prosecutors asked a top federal judge in Washington to force Mr. Patel to testify — a move fought by Mr. Patel’s lawyers, who are concerned the government wants to use Mr. Patel’s own statements to incriminate him. [first]


The push for the testimony has also created friction between the Justice Department and Mr. Patel’s lawyers, who have argued that the department could use his statements against him if they build out a larger obstruction investigation. [second]

This is, frankly, silly reporting. Stanley Woodward doesn’t get a choice in whether Patel is immunized. That’s the point: You immunize a witness to compel his testimony. And defense attorneys and prosecutors are adversarial; there is supposed to be “friction” between them. That’s the nature of an adversarial system.

Including these claims in the story without explaining the import of compelled testimony does a disservice to readers and makes the story far more of vehicle for obstruction.

Best as I can tell (it’s hard to tell, because the part of the earlier story addressing immunity was so muddled), this version of the story adds no new news except for the self-congratulatory detail that Trump only learned that Kash took the Fifth from the earlier story.

Mr. Trump first learned that Mr. Patel had invoked the Fifth Amendment when The New York Times reported it on Monday, according to person briefed on the matter.

This is not actually interesting unless you’re a NYT reporter or someone like Stanley Woodward wanting to make clear he’s not directly consulting on these defense issues in advance with Trump himself, which is different than consulting with someone like Boris Epshteyn, who (unlike Woodward) is not a defense attorney but nevertheless is purportedly in charge of Trump’s defense. It just so happens that these anonymously sourced stories provide all the details that Trump would need and Woodward would want public to make sure he still got paid. (Not addressed, however, is a reference in the earlier story boasting about the treatment of the video surveillance that would have led to changed testimony from Nauta.)

Sadly, this story utterly misses several key points about the import of Kash Patel’s testimony.

First, consider Kash’s potential responses if Beryl Howell does grant him use immunity. Either he testifies truthfully, he lies, or he still refuses to testify and gets jailed for contempt. This is the real tension that Woodward is getting at — what should Kash do if he is immunized, as if the story is begging for directions from those paying the bills. While Trump was still President, the answer was easy: lie and await a pardon. It’s more complicated when you’re firewalling someone who may not return to the presidency anytime soon.

More importantly, consider possible reasons why Kash might have invoked the Fifth, if it was anything more than an attempt to avoid testifying in the absence of Executive Privilege claims.

NYT — which has spread the cover story that the only Russian documents Trump attempted to disseminate as he left office were the unclassified Strzok-Page texts (ABC had a detailed story about what really happened) — says that this is all about whether Kash’s claims that Trump declassified the documents he stole are true.

Federal prosecutors investigating former President Donald J. Trump’s handling of national security documents want to question one of his confidants about a claim that Mr. Trump had declassified national security documents he took when he left the White House.


But the Justice Department’s interest in questioning Mr. Patel about the claim shows that prosecutors see it as potentially relevant to their investigation into the handling of the documents and whether Mr. Trump or his aides obstructed the government’s efforts to reclaim them.

If all Kash was asked about was whether — at a time when he was supposed to be running the Pentagon but instead happened to be at the White House at the precise moment Trump waved a magic wand to mass declassify documents he intended to steal — Trump had really declassified those documents, there’d be little cause to invoke the Fifth and he would have invoked Executive Privilege instead. If Trump didn’t declassify the documents, Kash would be admitting to lying in Breitbart, which is not only not a crime, but it is generally assumed of columns that appear in Breitbart.

If Trump actually did declassify these documents with Kash as a witness, Kash has no legal exposure whatsoever.

So (again assuming Kash invoked the Fifth because he believed he had real exposure himself, which may not be the case), what might be those possible areas of exposure? Some possibilities include [these are hypotheticals]:

  • At some time before January 20, 2021, Kash and Trump coordinated to select a group of documents — including the Russian binder, but also (per the Breitbart piece quoted in the search affidavit) the Ukraine quid pro quo and other topics of national security import — that Trump would steal when he left; this is consistent with a great deal of what Kash has said publicly.
  • The Russian binder did circulate and because the declassification process was never finalized before Trump left office — and appears not to have been finalized at all — any classified documents in it would expose the person circulating the binder to Espionage Act charges himself. If an unredacted Carter Page application were included, it would expose the person to FISA violations as well, as I noted in August.
  • Trump and Kash both know that he never declassified the documents he stole, but leading up to May 5 — at a time when Trump was trying to stave off further investigation and even before FBI reviewed the boxes returned in January — they coordinated the false Breitbart column and the false claims about declassification since.
  • The decision to make Kash and John Solomon Trump’s representatives to the Archives was an effort to assess what was stolen.
  • Kash was in some way part of the curating process of choosing which stolen classified documents to retain after 2021, effectively a continuation of the role he started to play in 2017, for which he was rewarded handsomely.

Again, all of these are strictly hypothetical! But they more closely match the known facts than the cover story that Trump was only disseminating unclassified Strzok texts.

And for all the NYT’s focus on obstruction — goddamnit, Mike Schmidt, will you never tire of reporting that Trump is primarily exposed to obstruction?!?! — many of these actions would expose Patel not just to obstruction, but to charges under the Espionage Act himself (and, as I noted, potentially FISA).

I described on August 12 — four days after the search — that if Trump asked Kash or John Solomon to access the stolen classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, then it would expand Trump’s exposure under the Espionage Act.

If Trump and Kash worked together while still in the White House to select a bunch of classified documents to steal and further disseminate, it might expose one or both to 793d.

(d)Whoever, lawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it; or

If, before DOJ started making the more formalized requests for Trump to return the stolen documents (and so at a time when Trump might plausibly claim he was still sorting through his documents), Kash disseminated them forward from Mar-a-Lago, it might expose one or both to 793f.

(f)Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—

If Kash coordinated with Trump to try to create post hoc justification to keep the stolen classified documents — including with the Breitbart column and his subsequent claims about declassification — it might expose both to 793g.

(g)If two or more persons conspire to violate any of the foregoing provisions of this section, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each of the parties to such conspiracy shall be subject to the punishment provided for the offense which is the object of such conspiracy.

Again, this post involves a lot of hypotheses (though with the advantage that, unlike the NYT, I’m not under the illusion that the only Russian documents Trump planned to disseminate were unclassified Strzok texts). But this is an absolutely critical thought experiment (especially when trying to assess venue, as Brandon Van Grack did here) because the question before DOJ is not, and never was, solely whether a former President refused to return documents he might implausibly claim to have declassified.

The question has always been about whether Trump had a premeditated plan to steal classified documents, and what Trump did with the classified documents after he stole them. Every single one of Kash’s claims to be privy to a purported declassification are also claims about premeditation and dissemination to people not authorized to have classified documents.

And that’s why he’d have a credible Fifth Amendment claim.

It would be unprecedented to charge a former President with violating 18 USC 793e for refusing to return classified documents — though I think DOJ has a clear case (with the South Florida venue that Van Grack explains in his piece) for documents retained between June 3 and August 8.

But if DOJ had evidence that Trump had a premeditated plan to steal classified documents and disseminate them to frothers — some with suspect associates — it would expand his exposure into crimes that are not close calls at all.

And that’s why the decision whether to immunize Kash is not the hard trade-off that people are making it out to be. DOJ may or may not be able to mount a case against Kash himself. But if he were a key witness in a 793g case, it would make the gravity of crimes charged under the Espionage Act far more clearcut, even if charged in Florida. It would make any case against Trump far easier to prove.

Kash Patel is not primarily a witness about whether Trump declassified the documents he stole. He’s a witness about whether Trump had a premeditated plan to steal classified documents and disseminate them to people not entitled to have them. And that’s why the serial reports about DOJ seeking to immunize Kash’s testimony are interesting.

85 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    But if DOJ had evidence that Trump had a premeditated plan to steal classified documents and disseminate them to frothers — some with suspect associates — it would expand his exposure into crimes that are not close calls at all.


    Granting use immunity, especially post-Iran Contra, is something the DOJ is very loathe to do (or approve Congress of granting) for executive branch investigations. For them to even contemplate this move means they have a very good reason to do so, and this hypothetical certainly qualifies.

    • joel fisher says:

      I’m sure you’re right, but one can’t help but wonder why. Congress, sure; you get into an Iran Contra kind of a deal when the immunity is for public testimony. But a grand jury? Way less public.

      • bmaz says:

        Congressional immunity is not worth spit without DOJ backing now. Iran Contra is not a good analogy at this point except to the extent the lesson was learned and retained by DOJ in instances like this one.

      • Silly but True says:

        Patel has been speaking about a story that could entirely blow up DoJ’s investigation, and whose only two apparent witnesses to the events of that story might include just Patel himself, and Trump.

        Normally you want to roll upwards: They don’t particularly want Patel (but would probably settle for him) if they can get Trump. But they’re not going to immunize Trump to get Patel. They _will_, however immunize Patel to get Trump.

    • was_Alan K says:

      If Patel participated in the selection, thereby exposing him to criminal charges once the document theft was discovered (probability 100%), what’s in it for Patel?

      Pardons are past the sell-by date. So it’s a big risk and AFAIK Patel does not have deep pockets (yet). So what’s in it for him? Money?

      • Drew in Bronx says:

        Patel has always been in it for power (& whatever passes as conviction among right wing fascists). He committed his crimes & stayed close to Trump anticipating him continuing or returning to power. Don’t forget, Trump made Patel practically in charge of the Department of Defense in the last days.

        Now Patel is in the same jam as Trump is in and flipping on Trump only (perhaps) keeps him out of prison, but it burns his only plausible avenues to power & influence. He’s likely playing to jam this enough to keep his credibility & employability in the right wing ecosystem after this plays out, but his options are limited.

    • Tom R. says:

      1) Strictly speaking, neither congress nor DoJ can directly “grant” immunity; they have to get a federal court to do it. I mention this because once granted, there is no difference between “congressional immunity” and any other kind of immunity. It’s just immunity. Court-ordered immunity.

      2) The court’s role is ministerial. The court shall issue the order once routine requirements have been met.

      3) A request from congress is not subject to approval or disapproval from DoJ. There is a notification requirement, which slows things down by 10 days on the front end and maybe 20 days on the back end, but that’s it.


      • bmaz says:

        If both parties want immunity, and a basis is shown, it will be granted by the court. It is a process though.

      • Silly but True says:

        Patel also better be cognizant to get complete jurisdictional immunity.

        He for sure wants to make sure whatever deal includes all possible crimes in both DC and FL, and documents moving across State lines or other federally regulated transportation routes.

        • Silly but True says:

          I’m curious to pile-on charges.

          If GSA was rooked into transporting the entirety of problem records some 24 pallets of stuff from DC to FL: records with classification markings, government records, et. al., what are things just associated with making GSA an unindicted conspirator to the crimes? Conspiracy against US for defrauding GSA? Misprison under color of law? Federal contract fraud?

        • bmaz says:

          Rooked, it is literally the GSA’s job to do this move. And they do not have time nor permission to rifle through every box, container etc. Were they supposed to check Melania’s underwear box too? They are not conspirators to anything under any semblance of fact we know or have seen reported, and have no exposure whatsoever.

        • Silly but True says:

          Don’t be so literal. Clearly GSA had no idea they were being used to facilitate crimes.

          But surely there exists some federal laws already in place to defavor criminally-minded people from using GSA to facilitate their crimes?

        • timbozone says:

          Kash may want to also make himself immune from possible espionage related charges should loss of US humint assets overseas (in the news the past few months) be tracked back to any of the documents that he, Kash, was aware was in Trump’s or his own possession in contravention of law, documents that never should have left the WH or other authorized USG curation. The chance that the current Administration’s DOJ would grant immunity so broadly to Kash (or anyone else) is close to nil.

          I also note that, while it has never been tried, a former US President who knowingly gave away the nation’s secrets, even if he did “declassify them with his mind” while still legally President, might not get around a charge of willful negligence with the handling of the nation’s secrets. Seems to me that the Espionage Act and other laws are worded in such a strong way that willfully transmitting national secrets to foreign powers, whether they’re “de-classified” or not, is not something you want to be caught doing, not when a rational person would not transmit them, particularly if you undertook to do any of that secretly, right before or during a period when you began to obstruct the USG from finding out whether or not you retained those documents in violation of various laws that one had been made aware of while in office. Note that Trump, in his interview with Hannity, said that “declassify them with your mind” was an alternative legal theory that he’d heard…an alternative theory to what presumably were more reasonable interpretations of how President’s can formally de-classify marked government records. And that’s assuming that that ex-President didn’t receive some sort of “thing of value” in return for transmitting that information to a foreign power. If that last thing were provable, say a $2 investment in your son-in-laws new business as an example, well, you might be in for a real hard time.

          (And welcome to the Twilight Republic Zone everyone!)

  2. LakeNaomi says:

    premeditation: getting the FBI papers released to the public…
    asking the goog for Patel’s Binder gave me an answer to an additional old question… why did Trump cancel the New Year’s Eve celebration and return early to the White House:

    from wsj.com 7 Oct 2022:
    With just weeks left as president, Trump “demanded” that “key documents” — still classified by the FBI and Justice Department — “be brought to the White House” so they could be “entered into the public record once and for all,” Meadows wrote in a memoir published last year.

    On Dec. 30, 2020, the Justice Department delivered a binder filled with internal notes, memos, emails and other records. The White House was unsure of what should be disclosed, so Trump’s team asked a group of Republican staffers on the House Intelligence Committee to make recommendations, a congressional source informed of the request told ABC News.

    “[It’s] a foot-and-a-half of documents, almost everything that the FBI had left out of public sight,” Solomon said in an interview with a right-wing website on Jan. 14, 2021, predicting that the documents could be “made public as early as tomorrow.”

    But the FBI objected to “any” release at all, Trump’s “declassification” memo said.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. This is your third or fourth user name. I know it’s been a while since commented last and may have forgotten, but you’ve commented as “Naomi” and “naomi emmich” previously. Please stick with one username going forward which contains 8 letters minimum. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  3. Bay State Librul says:

    Glad EW is keeping an eye on the Trump crime syndicate.

    “The greatest veneration one can show the law is to keep a watch on it.”

  4. BobBobCon says:

    “Kash Patel is not primarily a witness about whether Trump declassified the documents he stole. He’s a witness about whether Trump had a premeditated plan to steal classified documents and disseminate them to people not entitled to have them. ”

    I think there may be a related issue that Patel may be a witness to Trump sharing top level secrets that aren’t documents.

    The documents he stole are bad, but the information he has in his head are potentially much worse, and I would be surprised if the intelligence community isn’t working on the possibility that Patel and others are conduits for this.

    (I expanded my name to 9 characters — hope this is the correct thing to do)

    [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. /~Rayne]

  5. Eric says:

    Once immunized, if Patel still refuses to testify, what kind of penalty would a contempt charge involve? I get that a future pardon might be a diminishing likelihood, but would it be worth it to him in some other way to simply do the time?

    [Welcome to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “Eric.” Please select a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  6. Tom R. says:

    Yeah, that NYT article is infuriating. Barking up the wrong tree. Multiple wrong trees. Maybe 3 of the 22 paragraphs make sense, if you include the one that belatedly concedes that the classification issue is a red herring.

    Here’s another angle to consider: There are multiple ways DoJ could obtain testimony in this situation, including (a) an immunity order, or (b) an agreement, i.e. flipping. Woodward doesn’t get a say in the former. OTOH he is grossly conflicted as to the latter, because a deal that would benefit Patel would harm his other clients.

    Here’s yet another angle, while we are considering hypothetical scenarios: Suppose DoJ already has enough to charge Patel with something such as lying to the FBI. They might already have an indictment in their pocket. So in terms of pursuing “some” accountability, they don’t have much to lose by immunizing him for his role in the document retention / destruction / obstruction / conspiracy.

    • Paulka says:

      “Here’s another angle to consider: There are multiple ways DoJ could obtain testimony in this situation, including (a) an immunity order, or (b) an agreement, i.e. flipping. Woodward doesn’t get a say in the former. OTOH he is grossly conflicted as to the latter, because a deal that would benefit Patel would harm his other clients.”

      Can someone explain how it is not a conflict of interest for the attorneys to be representing separate clients in this situation?

  7. WilliamOckham says:

    I suspect that DOJ thinks that Patel could shed light on NARA’s understanding that:

    … roughly two dozen boxes of original Presidential records were kept in the Residence of the White House over the course of President Trump’s last year in office and have not been transferred to NARA…

    [My emphasis]

  8. John Paul Jones says:

    I read Van Grack’s piece, and as soon as I saw the headline on this article, it occurred to me there was something VG never really discussed: that the documents were stolen for (a) reason(s), and thus the original crime(s) most likely occurred in the White House. The best witnesses to the crime would then be the people designated to try and connect the records to their home at NARA, the two Pats, Patel, etc. What it means, is that charging in DC once again becomes a real possibility. Just my speculation.

    • Shadowalker says:

      If the docs were taken while he was still President would present a problem. I think if they can charge using the Espionage Act, jurisdiction is the DC court.

      • bmaz says:

        First off, DC is where this case should have been charged in the first place. Secondly, not sure he was “still POTUS” when the final load out occurred and the trucks left the premises.

        • Disraeli56 says:

          The scary bit was that The Load Out was followed by Stay

          Now if Congress don’t mind
          And the SCOTUS don’t mind ….

        • Shadowalker says:

          A criminal case hasn’t been brought yet. And they would need physical proof (not just eyewitness testimony) that he was no longer POTUS. All we have at this point are images of a lot of boxes that could contain anything.

          Regardless, venue could be anywhere the crime was committed “in any district in which such offense was begun, continued, or completed.”

          §3237. Offenses begun in one district and completed in another

        • bmaz says:

          I am fairly familiar with the facts and very familiar with law as to jurisdiction and venue, but thanks.

        • Shadowalker says:

          They have a better shot at getting the venue firmly in DC from the subpoena from the grand jury in that district.

        • bmaz says:

          Uh, the real grand juries, plural, have always been in DC. The ONLY thing done in SDFL was a warrant application. At least until Garland and the DOJ stupidly agreed to leave it there and “negotiate” once that idiotic civil complaint was filed down there. Some of the worst lawyering by DOJ during Garland’s tenure (Durham is a separate entity).

        • Shadowalker says:

          The property search warrant was applied for in the district the property is located within, which if I’m not mistaken, has been the process since the beginning of this country.

          They didn’t stupidly agree to anything. They didn’t consider that there was a federal judge who would go through some sketchy legal gymnastics to keep the case alive and in her court room. I suppose they could have appealed to the 11th, but it looks like they weren’t exactly sure about getting enough support there, which the stay showed was pretty substantial.

        • bmaz says:

          No, warrants from the jurisdiction where the offense occurred and is being investigated can be served and executed in another District. You would, I would think alert the foreign court and involve the local FBI as well. It is clearly easier on terrorism cases, but that would also apply to espionage cases as far as I can tell. Here is the way one court put it:

          This conclusion also makes sense given the practical realities of procuring a warrant for an out-of-district search. As the United States suggests, it makes little sense to require the government, once it has opened an investigation into an alleged federal crime in the district where that crime allegedly occurred, to have to look to the courts, prosecutors and agents in another district where certain evidence may be found in order to procure a warrant for a search in that other district. Instead, as a matter of judicial and prosecutorial efficiency,13 it is practical to permit the federal district court for the district where the federal crime allegedly occurred to oversee both the prosecution and the investigation (including the issuance of warrants) thereof.

          This has long been my understanding, if you know different, please advise. Also, too, DOJ had more than enough time to do this or analogous out of District service from their DC grand jury.

        • timbozone says:

          Yes, this is one of the mysteries here for sure. Why not DC Circuit all the way? DC Circuit bandwidth limitations?

        • Shadowalker says:

          We would have to see the affidavit supporting the warrant. My guess is they didn’t have enough in DC for probable cause of a crime being committed in DC’s district, but they did in SOFL, most likely more than enough since it’s a FPOTUS. They only moved on it when they got real evidence that boxes were being moved to the residence.

          Trump and his pal McConnell have done a real number on our justice system that will likely take decades to fix. But it can’t be done haphazardly or it never gets fixed.

        • bmaz says:

          To my eye, no it is not. The putative crime occurred the second the documents were removed from the White House. There is no issue with jurisdiction/venue in DC whatsoever.

        • LakeNaomi says:

          cnn showing a clip of Trump attornies Trusee and Corcoran going into a DC Courthouse, a closed door hearing, their time stamp 1:27 eastern, saying the meeting ongoing…

  9. Cosmo Le Cat says:

    This is the EW article I’ve been waiting to read.

    Of course it’s not a crime to be a witness to Trump declassifying documents, and thus not a good cause for asserting the 5th. However, Patel may have asserted the 5th abusively, without good cause, in order to obstruct the grand jury’s investigation, just because he’s an evil guy who doesn’t want to help the deep state investigators. He could be following the pattern set by Alex Jones and Roger Stone, who abused the 5th before the J6 Committee.

    • timbozone says:

      lol. I think we can assume that, by this point, Kash has a reasonable belief that his testimony might result in his self-incrimination.

  10. Rugger_9 says:

    It’s going to be interesting IF Patel gets immunity to testify. Will he sell out Individual-1 after writing that children’s book? I think he does so (eventually) to save his own skin, but the truth must be the only option. So, if KP lies he goes to jail but if he sings he loses the MAGA cult. DOJ needs to make sure KP knows that they have the receipts and that lying to them will be stomped on severely.

  11. Spencer Dawkins says:

    The question has always been about whether Trump had a premeditated plan to steal classified documents, and what Trump did with the classified documents after he stole them.

    I struggle to think of how you steal 10s of boxes of classified documents without a plan. If you need to arrange for a truck to carry off what you’re stealing, doesn’t that require at least a little forethought?

    (this is snark, sort of)

    • bmaz says:

      The trucks are automatically provided by the government to take all personal belongings of the outgoing POTUS away, and the move literally happens during the inauguration.

  12. viget says:

    The following is all conjecture, and I hate to sound like a broken record, but I think the play here was a smuggling operation. Patel plus possibly ECW were in charge of smuggling out top secret DoD docs, and the cover story was the CH FBI files.

    Patel (or an associate) probably secreted the docs in the boxes that were packed up to give Trump plausible deniability over the fact that classified docs were stolen. That’s what I bet they are trying to get use immunity for, testimony that Trump was part of this conspiracy.

    That and counterintelligence on the whole document stealing plan, who was involved,who the handlers were, etc.

    In exchange, he will get charged with lesser offenses like lying to the FBI or stealing govt records,but not espionage act or conspiracy charges.

    If you’re Patel, hard not to take a deal like that. The only question is if he’s compelled by Judge Howell with immunity, does he firewall Trump and risk a civil contempt action PLUS possible Espionage charges? Or does he take a deal?

  13. rattlemullet says:

    Did Kash Patel have all the proper approvals to review and handle top secret materials? Or can as trump claims provide this clearance by himself to anyone by voice or waving his hand?

    • Shadowalker says:

      He forced security clearance for Jarrod, but he could only get base level clearance. Giving him the higher level ones got a lot of pushback.

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I guess we’ll see how much Kash Patel – rather, his mysterious patrons – wants to fall on his sword in order to keep that patronage coming in. The reward for it might come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, not just from Trump.

    • PJ McNabb says:

      Very cogent comment. Patel told us what was on offer in May. “Major national security matters of great public importance. Anything the the President felt the American people had a right to know is in there, AND MORE”. The “and more” is chilling. Taking this statement at face value implies Patel’s participation in “a premeditated plan”. He was a Trump ‘go to’ guy, considering the jobs he held in Trump’s last year. I would question how thoroughly he’d flip.

  15. Frank Probst says:

    Non-lawyer question: Does Patel’s attorney have a valid point? I get that “use immunity” means that what you say can’t be used against you, but are there exceptions that can be invoked? What happens if Patel testifies truthfully to a grand jury (which is meeting in secret), and then goes out publicly tells the same story he originally told Breitbart? Could his prior testimony be used against him for an obstruction charge?

    • bmaz says:

      All grand juries are secret by rule. And yes, he could trip himself up. To be clear, use immunity only protects you from your testimony, but theoretically not against other crimes that are clearly outside of it. At least theoretically. It can get messy at times.

  16. Pedro Perfecto says:

    Since we’re mostly talking about hypotheticals here, how about this one;

    Perhaps Patel did nothing wrong and he’s not going to flip on anyone because no one else did anything wrong either.

    When it comes to trump, the nyt track record with “anonymous people briefed on the matter” is not very reliable.

    As soon as it all comes out, let’s circle back and see who’s conspiracy theory was closest to the truth.

    • bmaz says:

      This comment is entirely bullshit. And if you don’t know that, you are very much in the wrong place. I am not going to delete it so people can see what a troll you are at heart.

  17. Pedro Perfecto says:

    How is my comment trollish?

    A lot of wild stuff is being said about Patel and I’m just saying maybe there’s nothing there as well.

    • bmaz says:

      You keep pulling this shit and you are gone. Comprende Pedro? This is not some flaky reddit or AOL Messinger chatroom.

  18. Pedro Perfecto says:

    Please don’t quit me hermano.

    [If you don’t learn to thread replies as well as add intelligent material to the discussion relevant to a post’s topic, you won’t have to worry about tu hermano sino tu hermana, la bruja de la moderación y su varita mágica.. /~Rayne]

    • bmaz says:

      It will be today if you continue this one comment further. We don’t have time for your nonsense. Don’t be a pain.

  19. KM Williams says:

    I’ve been wondering if Patel is afraid of more than just legal jeopardy. Perhaps he is also afraid of retribution from Trump supporters: not just the MAGA hordes, but from the several billionaires, and the various governments, especially Russian and Saudi, who have much to lose if Trump goes down.
    He might avoid jail, but a plutonium milkshake, or being cut to bits while still alive … well.

  20. Micah says:

    I got a perhaps darker hypothetical. Why did Trump want to pull out of strategic positions throughout the world? I don’t think he did. I don’t think you can just check classified documents like a library book. Security is need-to-know. I think the pullout was just a pretext to gather up as much valuable documents as possible. Why? Could be monetary, but a more disturbing option is that Trump wanted to sabotage the incoming government. Why would there be such an intelligence failure on the Afghanistan pull-out? Time will tell, but I suspect they lost human sources who could have warned the administration.

    • Bruce Olsen says:

      It’s not so hard to understand if you bear in mind his fealty to Putin.
      We don’t know for fact what the source of that devotion was, unfortunately, and I’m not going to speculate.

  21. Cosmo Le Cat says:

    Suppose Patel goes into the grand jury and, lying, says: “Only Trump and I were in the room when he verbally declassified everything in every box that was wrapped and ready to ship to MAL.” Assuming Patel had a moment alone with Trump while he was still president, the only person who could dispute Patel’s false story is Trump, and he would go along with Patel’s story. It’s a dangerous game, but I don’t see how Patel would be caught. Trump will never testify and there are no other witnesses.

    • bmaz says:

      Where do people come up with all this hypothetical, suppose this, suppose that garbage? Do you have one iota of basis for any of that (other than that Trump is unlikely to testify)?

      Seriously, this is getting way out of control.

  22. ThomasJ7777 says:

    I still maintain that it is unlikely that there are any documents pertaining to nuclear weapons.

    Add to that my skepticism that the documents are about Iran or China.

    The ONLY source for that information is Devlin Barret at WaPo, and he does not specifically claim that his source is inside the government.

    The attribution Barrett uses for his source leads me to believe that the source is Trump himself.

    It is very likely, in the context of Trump’s interests since 2016, that the documents he stole are about these topics:

    *Russian money laundering
    *US spies working in Russia
    *Russian spies
    *FISA, especially Russia investigation evidence
    *Ukraine intelligence
    *Counter-intelligence operations against Russia

    If there is anything else, it is probably about the Middle East or secrets Trump stole to use for leverage, favors, blackmail, bribery, extortion or personal gain.

    I understand that DOJ is probably waiting until Trump’s “Special Master” antics run their course, and they might be waiting until after the election to search his other properties, but leaving him free to commit more crimes is extremely dangerous in several ways.

    It’s my hope that Trump is arrested for 18 USC 119 right after the election and that they can persuade a judge to keep him in jail until the other crimes can be charged.

    He is now threatening two judges, using electronic transmissions to spread fraudulent lies about them and incite violence against them.

  23. Canard says:


    Kash Patel is very likely toast –

    He is a person of color
    A person of limited means
    He is of foreign extraction

    In our two tier system of justice, he is toast.

    • bmaz says:

      Who in the world cares? Did you mean that as an actually serious question? If you did, think twice before commenting again. And make a better discussion.

    • Rayne says:

      Marcy referred to him as Kash Patel and Patel as well as Kash in this post. Do you have a specific problem with this?

      Patel is the 7th most common surname in India; it’s Gujarati, which means a considerable number of the 64 million Gujarati people share that same name. It might be more challenging to refer to Kash Patel by Patel than referring to someone as Smith in the US since there are 2.5 million Smiths here.

  24. pasco says:

    It seems to me DOJ should subpoena and immunize Trump and then let him rat out the Republican conspiracy. He just wants to stay out of jail. He will turn on everyone without a qualm.

    • bmaz says:

      I’m sorry, what is it too are generously going to “immunize” Trump on? Is it blanket immunity? If not, then what use immunity? Trump would be an idiot to play in either field, and he won’t.

      And, since when, do you immunize the actual target of any investigation?

      Do tell.

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