WASHINGTON, D.C. — Indian-American attorney Kashyap ‘Kash’ Pramod Patel, 38, the former Senior Counsel for Counterterrorism at the House Select Committee on Intelligence and key aide to then chairman Rep. David Nunes, when the Republicans were in the majority, has been appointed senior director of Counterterrorism Directorate of the National Security Council housed in the White House.
But the White House has declined to comment and refused to confirm the appointment of Patel, an avowed Trump acolyte, first reported by The Daily Beast, which also reported early last year along with the New York Times — before the Democrats took over the House — that Patel was the primary author of the controversial memo and the key “drafter and pusher of the memo,” released earlier by Nunes, of alleged bias by the Justice Department and the FBI against President Trump and pushing back against and attempting to discredit the FBI’s investigations of Trump’s collusion with Russia.
When the GOP ceded authority to the Democrats following their rout in the 2018 mid-term elections and Rep. Adam Schiff took over the helm of the Intelligence Committee, Patel left Capitol Hill and joined the NSC’s Directorate of International Organizations and Alliances, and according to the Beast, he has now been promoted to head its counterterrorism bureau.
In its report, the Beast said that while “the vast majority of Hill staffers stay studiously out of the news, Patel drew national attention in early 2018, when Nunes oversaw the production and release of the memo on surveillance of Trump campaign advisor Carter Page,” which enraged DOJ and FBI officials, who said that they had no say in its creation and that it unfairly characterized standard intelligence-gathering practices.
But at the time, as the Beast said, “It was a watershed moment for the right’s critics of the (Special Counsel Robert) Mueller probe and of senior DOJ leadership.”
The memo was part of a broader effort from Nunes —whom Democrats accused of “carrying the water for the Trump White House” — to investigate the origins of the FBI’s counterintelligence probe into the Kremlin and the Trump campaign — the project that Mueller then took over.
But many saw Nunes’ investigation-of-the-investigators as a way to run interference for the Trump administration, and his decision to make a late-night visit to the White House early in the process only raised suspicions.
The FBI had argued vehemently against the release of the memo, warning that it has “material omissions of fact fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,” but after he receiving it, Trump unclassified it and sent it back to Nunes, who made it public.
Immediately after the memo was released, Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who was first asked to stay on by Trump and then later fired, tweeted, ‘I mean, come on, when your memo is crapped on by Alberto ‘torture memo’ Gonzales, you’re up shithole creek I think @ David Nunes.”
Former Attorney General in the Bush administration, Gonzales had said, “I have no confidence whatsoever” in Nunes’ memo.
He told Time magazine, “Nunes seems to be part of the Trump team.”
But in other quarters, as the Beast said, “Nunes became a folk hero. And so did Patel,” and at the time Patel left the Hill, Carter Page, the Trump foreign policy advisor whose Russia links concerned the Intelligence Community, tweeted Patel’s praises saying, “When the history of the Democrats’ corrupt interference in the last Presidential election is written, Kash Patel should be remembered as an unsung hero who fought for the repair of the rule of law. A brilliant lawyer, the NSC will now benefit greatly too.”
During his time on the Hill working for Nunes, Patel also sparred with Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who at the time was supervising the Russia probe as then Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from the Russia probe.
Fox News at the time reported that in e-mails Patel wrote, Rosenstein had threatened to subpoena the committee’s emails and records, and had issued “direct threats” to Patel, in an effort “to keep these people quiet, to keep the American people from hearing the truth.” But the issue faded when Rosenstein denied under oath that he threatened committee staff.
The Beast said in its report last month that “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.”
But at the time Patel was being credited with writing this controversial “Kash Memo,” senior Congressional sources pushed back on the reports in the Daily Beast and the New York Times that he was the primary author of the controversial memo.
The sources told India Abroad at the time that Patel, a former counterterrorism prosecutor in the Justice Department’s National Security Division before he joined Nunes’ Committee staff, was not the “key author” of the memo nor that it was dubbed the “Kash Memo” and argued that he was “part of the research and development team” that helped the senior staffers who wrote the memo under the “guidance and direction” of Representative Trey Gowdy, a former prosecutor and chairman of the House Oversight Committee, famous or notorious as the case may be for chairing the Benghazi Committee that went after the Obama administration and erstwhile Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
One of the sources echoing the statement by Damon Nelson, staff director of the Committee e-mailed to the New York Times and making available this statement, and also that of Nunes’ spokesman Jack Langer, said “saying that a single member of the staff was responsible for authoring this memo, is way off base,” and reiterated that “it was a collective and team effort,” comprising “senior staffers and investigators,” who had “access to heaps of material obtained from various sources and the classified material” provided by the Justice Department and the FBI.
Nelson in his statement had said, “The clamor to identify ‘an author’ is indicative of an alarming trend by opponents of our investigation, which is to promote spurious allegations against committee members and staff.”
Langer, also in disputing the major role attributed to Patel said, “The problem is the lack of facts, Kash being the ‘driving force’ behind the memo is not a fact. Kash being the ‘pusher of the memo’ is not a fact. Unnamed people referring to ‘the Kash Memo’ is not a fact.”
At the time, The Times, in a less than flattering portrayal of Patel, said, he was a lawyer who has “sometimes run afoul of the rules,” and at the outset of the report, said that as a lawyer in Florida, “entered and then dropped out of a charity bachelor auction featuring some colleagues after a blogger had pointed out that his license to practice in the state appeared out of date.”
Patel, was born and raised in Garden City, New York to parents with Gurajati roots who immigrated from East Africa — who came to the U.S. by way of Canada in 1970 — and is an alumnus of the University of Richmond (Class of 2002), and according to his Facebook page claims that he earned a certificate in international law from the University College London Faculty of Laws and graduated from Pace University’s law school in 2005, and then spent part of his career in the Miami area as a federal public defender in Florida before taking a job at the Justice Department in 2014.