A senior national security adviser to Donald Trump has been granted immunity from prosecution so he can testify about the holding of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
Kash Patel, 42, told Breitbart News in May that the former president released a lot of information before he left the White House.
Thousands of documents – many classified – have been found after a series of raids at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
After the third and final search, on August 8 the FBI launched an investigation into whether classified information had been misused.
Patel appeared before a grand jury as part of the investigation in early October, but invoked the Fifth Amendment multiple times, saying he could not speak for fear of self-incrimination.
On Wednesday, multiple sources confirmed that Patel was granted immunity to receive his testimony, as was widely predicted.
Kash Patel, 42, has been granted immunity to testify about Donald Trump’s holding of documents in Mar-a-Lago. Patel was a senior national security adviser to the then president and remains a strong ally
Patel is seen interviewing Trump for The Epoch Times in February
Patel appeared before a grand jury as part of the investigation in early October, but invoked the Fifth Amendment multiple times, saying he could not speak for fear of self-incrimination
On Wednesday, multiple sources confirmed that Patel was granted immunity to receive his testimony, as was widely predicted
The 42-year-old told Breitbart News in May that Donald Trump had “declassified entire sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government.”
Agents stand guard outside of Mar-a-Lago on August 8 while the FBI searches the property
Documents seized in the Aug. 8 search of Trump’s estate are pictured Aug. 30. Trump’s attorneys have declined to say in court filings whether Trump ordered their release while he was in office and had the authority
Thousands of documents – many classified – have been found after a series of raids at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida
Patel, a staunch Trump loyalist, is a key figure in the Trump team’s efforts to thwart the Justice Department investigation into Trump and his allies.
Earlier this year, amid repeated requests for Trump to turn over the documents to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Trump made him one of his representatives at NARA.
Patel told Breitbart News in May: “In anticipation of leaving the government, Trump has declassified entire sets of materials that he felt the American public should have a right to read for themselves.
“I was there with President Trump when he said, ‘We are releasing this information.’
Among the documents found in the search were files related to Iran, China and French President Emmanuel Macron.
In the third and final raid on Aug. 8, agents seized some 13,000 documents — 103 classified as secret and 18 top secret, court filings show.
Trump himself has repeatedly said he released the documents.
In September, he told Fox News host Sean Hannity that as president, he could declassify documents just by thinking about them.
Trump spoke to Fox News host Sean Hannity about the Mar-a-Lago raid in September
Trump told Sean Hannity in an interview from his Mar-a-Lago home that he could release documents just by thinking about them
Trump is pictured Oct. 9 speaking at a rally in Mesa, Arizona. He has claimed he released the documents
Hannity asked him if the documents seized over the course of three searches – in January, June and August – had been declassified, as Trump had repeatedly claimed, and the former president replied, “I have declassified, yes.”
Hannity asked him how they were released.
“As I understand it, there doesn’t need to be a trial,” Trump said.
“Different people see different things.
“If you are the President of the United States, you can break the secrecy just by saying the secrecy is broken. Even if you think about it – because you’re sending it to Mar-a-Lago or where you’re sending it.
“It doesn’t have to be a process, it can be a process, but it doesn’t have to be. You are the President, you make this decision. So if you send it, it will be released. I released everything.’
However, his own lawyers have stopped claiming in their legal arguments that he released the files.
What are classified materials and who can release them?
The National Archives and Records Administration’s letter to Congress said it identified items “marked as classified national security information” in 15 boxes of information Trump shipped back from Mar-a-Lago. The government manages various levels of classified information. According to the Senate Intelligence Committee, “top secret” information applies to information that can reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally serious damage to national security.
One level down is “classified” information that “could reasonably be expected to cause serious harm to national security.” Below this is information that is merely “confidential”. This applies to information “the unauthorized disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to harm national security”. In particular, the letter from US archivist David Ferriero did not indicate at what level the information is classified.
The government classifies extensive material, and there have been longstanding efforts by watchdog groups and some legislators to reduce the scope of classification. The Washington Post previously reported that some of the documents Trump brought to Mar-a-Lago were clearly marked secret, some at the “top secret” level.
Some were reported to be “extremely sensitive” and confined to a small group of officers. It is a crime to mishandle classified information, and NARA’s letter said it was “in communication” with the Justice Department.
The President has sweeping unilateral powers to release information. In 2019, Trump tweeted a high-resolution image of an Iranian missile launch, prompting questions about whether he had released classified information. He later tweeted: “We had a photo and I published it, which I have every right to do.”