A former congressional staffer who worked feverishly to discredit the Russia investigation has recently been promoted on the National Security Council staff.
Kash Patel, who helmed the efforts of former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes to scrutinize the court-authorized surveillance of a Trump associate has taken on the role of Senior Director of the Counterterrorism Directorate of the National Security Council (NSC), according to two sources familiar with the move.
Earlier this year, Patel left Capitol Hill for the NSC’s Directorate of International Organizations and Alliances. His latest promotion—to a leadership post focusing on counterterrorism—has not previously been reported. A spokesperson for the NSC declined to comment.
The vast majority of Hill staffers stay studiously out of the news. But Patel drew national attention in early 2018, when Nunes oversaw the production and release of a memo on surveillance of Trump campaign advisor Carter Page. The memo enraged officials at the Justice Department and the FBI, who said that they had no say in its creation and that it unfairly characterized standard intelligence-gathering practices. But it was a watershed moment for the right’s critics of the Mueller probe and of senior DOJ leadership.
The memo was part of a broader effort from Nunes to investigate the origins of the FBI’s counterintelligence probe into the Kremlin and the Trump campaign—the project that then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller took over. Nunes’ investigation-of-the-investigators picked up steam as the public’s understanding of Russia’s 2016 interference skyrocketed. Many saw the effort as a way to run interference for the Trump administration, and Nunes’ decision to make a late-night visit to the White House early in the process only raised suspicions.
But in other quarters, Nunes became a folk hero. And so did Patel. Carter Page, the Trump foreign policy advisor whose Russia links concerned the Intelligence Community, tweeted Patel’s praises when news broke months ago of his departure from the Hill.
Patel also sparred with Rod Rosenstein during his time supervising the Russia probe. In emails that Fox News obtained, Patel wrote that Rosenstein threatened to subpoena the committee’s emails and records. And on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, Fox contributor Sara Carter said Rosenstein issued “direct threats” to Patel, in an effort “to keep these people quiet, to keep the American people from hearing the truth.” But Rosenstein denied under oath that he threatened committee staff, and the issue faded.
The alums of the Russia saga have, mostly, moved on. Rosenstein stepped down from the DOJ and returned to private life. Nunes lost his post as chairman when Democrats flipped the House. Mueller, after marathon Congressional testimony, returned to civilian life. And now Patel has moved from countering the Deep State to counterterrorism.