Kashyap Patel may not be the biggest name in Washington, but he’s high on Donald Trump’s list of favorites. He may also represent another back channel to Ukraine who, like Rudy Giuliani, was feeding Trump a stream of misinformation and conspiracy theories designed to warp U.S. policy.
The New York Times reports that Patel has been a frequent visitor at the White House, where Trump has referred to him as an expert on Ukraine. He’s not. Patel is a former member of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes’ staff and the primary author of an infamous memo alleging political motivations behind an FBI investigation into Trump adviser Carter Page in 2018, which Nunes insisted on releasing over objections of the intelligence community that it put both sources and methods at risk. Previous to that, Patel had demonstrated his competence by practicing law on an expired license and being on the receiving end of an “order of ineptitude” from a judge over serious screw-ups in a counterterrorism case.
As a reward for his role in destroying national security in practically every way available to a low-ranking official, Trump gave Patel a spot as a National Security Council aide. There, even though Ukraine policy is not part of his official duties, Patel seems to have taken it on himself to ferry documents to Trump and provide his own briefings—only without all the stuffy background information, history, and facts that Trump hates.
In addition to the official diplomatic team in Kyiv, Trump already had the “three amigos,” Gordon Sondland, Kurt Volker, and Rick Perry, applying pressure on Ukrainian officials to announce the investigations he wanted. And Trump had Rudy Giuliani and his indicted associates running around planting conspiracy theories, coercing statements, and mailing back heaps of propaganda to the State Department. But it seems that wasn’t enough.
Based on reporting, it seems that Patel was yet another unofficial pipeline between Trump and Ukraine, one that allowed Trump to get his hands on information without the constraints and concerns sent along by those pettifogging lawyers and diplomats in the State Department and intelligence communities. Trump liked the product that he got from Patel so much better than what was emerging from official channels that he apparently called Patel the “Ukraine director” of the National Security Council. And he said this to White House adviser Fiona Hill … who had the actual person holding that position on her staff.
Patel may currently be little known outside of Republican circles on Capitol Hill. But expect him to become impeachment-cycle famous. There’s a very good chance that his name is going to be added to the list of those whom the inquiry would like to question.
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