Kash Patel has found himself in trouble this week for one thing: his loyalty to the twice-impeached sexual abuser and grifter, Donald Trump. The Washington Post reported last week that 11 Trump associates, campaign aides, allies, and friends “have been convicted or pleaded guilty in recent years to various offenses, with their total sentences nearing 30 years of imprisonment.”
Patel, a lawyer and former aide to looned-out former California Representative Devin Nunes, also served in some mysterious capacity on Trump’s national security council, as the chief of staff to the Director of National Intelligence, and as chief of staff to Trump’s final secretary of defense, Christopher Miller. Currently, Patel is on the board of the company that owns Trump’s Truth Social media platform, along with his former boss, Nunes, who is CEO of the company. In the tradition of other aides, followers, partners, employees, and political associates of Donald Trump, Patel now finds himself where so many have gone before him: in the crosshairs of the Department of Justice.
Trump had wanted to appoint Patel as a deputy director of the FBI and when that notion was shot down, as deputy director of the CIA, but that appointment also failed under pressure from within his own camp. Patel, it seems, wasn’t very popular among other Trump sycophants. Attorney General William Barr, for example, told White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that Patel would become deputy director of the FBI “over my dead body.”
Patel is what they used to call in the old U.S. Cavalry a horse-holder: an enlisted aide who saddled and held onto the bridle of a cavalry officer’s horse as he prepared his gear and mounted. They were a necessary part of the cavalry as constituted for deployment in battle. In later years, after the cavalry was disbanded, the term “horse-holder" became a pejorative used to describe junior officers who put themselves at the beck and call of senior officers, ever-seeking a chance to kiss their superiors’ asses and get promoted.
Another apt word for the Patels of the political world, especially those around Donald Trump, is puppies.
Other Trump associates violated the law and went to prison – or like Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, and Michael Flynn, were pardoned – for offenses as various as lying to the FBI, running fund-raising scams, bank fraud, or obstruction of justice. One was even convicted on child sex crimes. Patel, on the other hand, finds himself sadly on the wrong side of the Department of Justice basically for doing what he was told by the man on whom he had modeled himself. He lied for the Big Liar himself when he told interviewers that he had witnessed Trump declassifying all the highly sensitive classified documents removed from the White House and taken to Mar-a-Lago. Whether Trump told him to lie, or asked him to lie, or Patel simply took it upon himself to lie for the man to whom he has been loyal since his time on the NSC, is unknown.
But it is an issue for DOJ prosecutors who are investigating Trump’s handling of all the 22,000 documents – classified and unclassified, both – he took to Mar-a-Lago and then resisted turning over for more than 18 months to the National Archives, where they belonged. Prosecutors are said to be looking at Patel for obstruction of justice, or conspiracy to obstruct justice, with his public lies about Trump’s declassification of the stolen documents. Early in October, prosecutors put Patel before the Washington, D.C. grand jury investigating Trump’s handling of the classified documents found in Trump’s residence and office at Mar-a-Lago when the FBI searched the place in August. Patel is reported to have refused to answer questions from the grand jury, citing his protection against self-incrimination afforded by the Fifth Amendment.
Which is his right, of course. But it was his own boss who famously said during one rally speech or another, “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” To which prosecutors appear to have answered, "Indeed, Kash, what’s up with all your skittishness answering questions about the classified documents you claim you saw Trump declassify when he was still president?”
To that end, DOJ prosecutors have made a filing with a federal judge in Washington asking that Patel be compelled to testify to the grand jury. The DOJ is said to be contemplating giving Patel immunity from prosecution. Under such an immunity deal, Patel would have no protection under the Fifth Amendment and could be compelled to testify about his knowledge of Trump’s handling of the classified documents taken from the White House. The New York Times calls this “a move Mr. Patel’s lawyers have strenuously opposed.”
And no wonder, because it is right here, folks, that it gets very, very interesting. The identity of Patel’s lawyers takes us way deep, and I mean way deep, into the multiple investigations swirling around the role that Trump played in the January 6 insurrection -- and extend to a conspiracy to defraud the government, interfere with an official function of the government, and of course to mishandling the classified documents Patel says he saw Trump declassify.
In a story about Patel’s grand jury testimony, CNN described Patel’s lawyer, Stanley Woodward, as he “ducked out of the ongoing Oath Keepers trial where he is a defense attorney for another defense client to escort Patel, wearing a bold red plaid jacket, down from the grand jury meeting area and out of the building.”
Got that? Patel’s lawyer is also the lawyer for one of the Oath Keepers on trial for sedition in the D.C. federal courthouse, Kelly Meggs, founder of the Florida branch of the Oath Keepers and husband of Connie Meggs, who goes on trial early next year for everything up to but not including sedition -- namely, conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, aiding and abetting obstruction, conspiracy, and entering restricted grounds [the Capitol] on January 6, 2021.
I am sure you will also be interested to know that lawyer Woodward is likewise the attorney of record for Walt Nauta, the former White House valet who DOJ prosecutors have questioned twice about his movement of boxes out of the basement storage room at Mar-a-Lago, after a subpoena had been issued to Trump demanding return of those boxes of documents and other materials he had taken from the White House to his resort/hotel/residence in Palm Beach, Florida.
Prosecutors are seeking a third interview with Nauta, who was seen on Mar-a-Lago security video moving the boxes. Nauta is said to have told DOJ investigators during his first interview that he moved the boxes at the direction of Donald Trump. In his second interview, however, after he had hired Stanley Woodward as his lawyer, Nauta contradicted his earlier testimony and said he could not recall who told him to move the boxes. That’s why prosecutors are seeking a third interview with Trump’s former White House valet, who is now serving the same function for the former president at his Florida residence.
Woodward’s co-counsel in the Oath Keepers sedition case is another lawyer in the Trump orbit, Juli Haller. Politico describes her this way: “Juli Haller was part of Donald Trump’s legal brigade in Michigan, filing a lawsuit alongside the ubiquitous Sidney Powell that claimed absentee vote counts were likely manipulated by a computer algorithm developed by allies of deceased Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez.” Politico says Haller was one of nine lawyers sanctioned in the Michigan case and was ordered to pay the city of Detroit’s legal fees and was referred by the judge for possible disbarment. The judge in the case called Haller’s lawsuit “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.”
Politico reports that Haller was also involved in at least four additional bogus lawsuits on behalf of Trump in other states, including Arizona, where her case was dismissed by a judge who said in his decision that the plaintiff [Donald Trump] was “sorely wanting of relevant or reliable evidence.”
According to a complaint filed by several attorneys against Haller and other lawyers involved in the phony Trump election fraud lawsuits with the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission, she and her fellow Trump lawyers “notably failed to disclose to the court that their false factual claims had been dismissed in state courts,” and made numerous other deceptive statements to the court. According to the complaint filed with the Grievance Commission, when Haller and the other attorneys were given a chance to defend the claims they made in their Trump lawsuits, they “voluntarily” withdrew the suits in lieu of offering “a factual defense.”
In other words, Haller and her team of Trump lawyers, who were operating under the direction of Sidney “release the Kraken” Powell, cut and run.
But while Sidney Powell faces disbarment proceedings in Texas, Juli Haller is still in the game on the side of MAGA extremists in the Oath Keepers, apparently representing not only Kelly Meggs in the current sedition case, but his wife Connie in her upcoming trial early in 2023.
Lawyers, guns, and money? In Trumpworld it’s lawyers, lies, and money. Who is paying for Woodward to represent Kash Patel and Walt Nauta? We don’t know. Who’s paying the legal bills of husband-and-wife Oath Keepers, the mighty Meggs? We don’t know that, either.
But the slug-like creep of Trump and his lawyers, liars, and thugs continues, leaving slime on everyone and everything they touch.
Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.
Reprinted with permission from Lucian Truscott Newsletter
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