Kash Patel, a Trump associate who served in the former president’s administration and subsequently became one of the Trump allies working in the president’s corner on government record issues, was ordered to testify — again — before a grand jury in the Justice Department’s documents investigation, according to CNN.
“Judge Beryl Howell of the DC District Court has granted Patel immunity from prosecution on any information he provides to the investigation, the people said,” according to CNN, which was recapping information from sources kept anonymous in the public report. Patel has helped represent Trump in a non-legal capacity to government agencies amid the documents dispute, and he has also been involved in public clean-up work around the issue. The Justice Department is investigating the handling of a broad array of documents from the Trump administration that were marked classified, dozens of which remained at Trump’s southern Florida resort Mar-a-Lago even after a federal subpoena demanding the materials’ return. Investigators have already heard from Christina Bobb, a Trump lawyer involved in false claims after the subpoena that the former president’s team was returning everything covered by it.
As for Patel, he declined to answer certain questions from investigators during an earlier grand jury appearance in this investigation. At the time, he cited his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, making the immunity useful. The immunity covers information provided in the course of his testimony, according to a recap from The Wall Street Journal. The Justice Department went to court after Patel’s initial reluctance. In public, he has claimed he was himself a witness to Trump declassifying materials at issue in the probe — although the documents’ classification status wouldn’t solely determine their investigative relevance. There remain questions about the potential national security ramifications of the information getting out, in addition to the possibility of somebody — including even Trump — facing obstruction charges. A report from Bloomberg said certain prosecutors felt they had enough evidence to charge Trump for obstruction but hadn’t — yet — made a formal recommendation to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Investigators are also pursuing information from Trump aides named Walt Nauta and Will Russell. Nauta, a former military valet, is on surveillance tapes moving boxes from a key storage facility at Mar-a-Lago evidently containing government documents — something he made indications of doing at the former president’s behest. Nauta is resisting another sit-down amid reported concerns of charges. Russell was identified in the Journal as involved with arranging Trump’s presidential travel when he was in office and also joined Donald’s post-White House team. Based on precedent, there likely won’t be major rhetorical bombshells in the documents investigation until after the midterm elections, although aside from any concerns about potential appearances of political interference, the investigation also remains at an early stage. Authorities are still pursuing access to certain unclassified docs seized in the August Mar-a-Lago raid and subject to a review by a so-called special master.