Report: Trump Aide Granted Immunity in Mar-a-Lago Case

Kash Patel invoked the Fifth Amendment in grand jury appearance last month
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2022 6:35 AM CDT
Report: Trump Aide Granted Immunity in Mar-a-Lago Case
Kash Patel speaks at a rally in Minden, Nev., Friday, Oct. 8, 2022.   (AP Photo/Jos? Luis Villegas, Pool)

A top adviser to former President Trump has been granted immunity and ordered to testify before a grand jury investigating Trump's handling of classified documents after leaving office, sources tell outlets including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Former Defense Department official Kash Patel appeared before the federal grand jury last month and repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, though prosecutors argued that he wasn't a target of the investigation, the Journal reports. Sources tell the Times that Judge Beryl A. Howell of Federal District Court in Washington acknowledged Patel's claims and said he couldn't be forced to testify unless he was granted immunity from prosecution based on his testimony.

Patel is "one of a handful of advisers around Trump after his presidency who could have legal risk related to the Mar-a-Lago situation," per CNN. Patel was appointed as one of Trump's representatives in dealing with the National Archives. He has repeatedly said that documents seized when the FBI searched Trump's Florida residence were declassified before Trump left office. "Trump declassified whole sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government that he thought the American public should have the right to read themselves,” he told Breitbart in May. "I was there with President Trump when he said ‘We are declassifying this information.'"

Trump has also doubled down on his claims to have declassified the documents, something he told Fox News host Sean Hannity he could do "just by thinking about it," the Guardian reports. If Patel's claims are true, it will make prosecuting Trump for allegedly improperly removing the documents and obstructing attempts to retrieve them a lot more challenging for the Justice Department, the Times notes. The Journal's sources say other Trump associates linked to the case have also been offered immunity. (Read more Donald Trump stories.)

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