A National Security Council advisor and former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) just filed suit against Politico and journalist Natasha Bertrand for reporting about his involvement in Trump’s plot to bribe and extort Ukraine’s president with security funds in exchange for investigating Vice President Joe Biden. This story has been updated to include comment from @DevinCow.
NSC counterterrorism director Kashyap “Kash” Patel filed suit in a Virginia state court against Politico, who revealed that testimony to the House Intelligence Committee-led impeachment inquiry pointed the finger at him as an imposter Ukraine expert in the White House, feeding misinformation to President Trump.
It’s an unusual gambit for Patel to file a libel lawsuit since publicly released deposition transcripts — of former NSC Russia expert Fiona Hill and its current Ukraine expert Col. Alexander Vindman — both confirm Politico’s reporting of the ignominiously awful lawyer’s role in advising the President on a topic far outside his expertise. Truth is an absolute defense to court claims of libel or slander, but in an ironic twist, it appears that the lawyer is ignoring that and taking legal advice from his old boss at the House Intelligence Committee.
Kash Patel is also falsely claiming in the lawsuit (embedded below) to be a “private individual” and to invoke a lower standard for proving libel claims, even though the reporting is about his official role in the federal government, according to Howard Kurtz at Fox News:
The Politico piece said Patel “was among those passing negative information about Ukraine to President Donald Trump earlier this year, fueling the president’s belief that Ukraine was brimming with corruption and interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Democrats.”
Patel was “so involved in the issue,” the story said, that “at one point Trump thought he was in charge of Ukraine policy for the National Security Council.” This was attributed to closed-door House testimony by Fiona Hill,” a former NSC official. What’s more, Politico said, “Patel’s involvement demonstrates that the president had at least some support for the scheme from within the NSC” — the scheme being to pressure Ukraine into investigations that would help Trump politically.
Reached by text message, Bertrand said she could not comment on the lawsuit at this time.
Independent attorneys have already panned the filing as frivolous, and it is drafted by the same lawyer representing Devin Nunes in his other defamation cases that are not going too well for the GOP congressman.
I just read the defamation "lawsuit" (and I use the term lightly) Kash Patel filed against Politico and I am trying hard not to fall out of my chair laughing.
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) November 18, 2019
A Virginia court seems like a strange venue to try and put a high-ranking member of Congress on trial, especially when the filing of the legal action will expose the plaintiff to both court discovery and sitting for a sworn, videotaped deposition, but numerous clues indicate the real motivation for the filing.
Fox’s Kurtz gives a hint as to why Patel filed such an obviously frivolous lawsuit in his story when he wrote that “While Politico is the nominal target of the suit, it represents an aggressive attempt by a presidential aide to put Adam Schiff’s handling of the impeachment inquiry itself on trial.”
Here is a short quote from the lawsuit, lashing out at the House Intel Chairman for following the same procedures enacted by Republicans in 2015 as part of their plan to maximize the chamber’s oversight powers:
In conducting the closed-door interviews of Hill and Vindman, Schiff completely ignored forty-five (45) years of bipartisan procedures, intentionally ignored the custom and course of dealing established in and by prior impeachment inquiries, violated the public’s First Amendment right of access and hid the proceedings from the American public, applied “Schiff’s Rules of Evidence”…
The president’s son—who is also caught up in the impeachment probe—gives another inkling as to the former Nunes staffer’s true motivations.
Patel’s decision to file makes even more sense when you watch this clip of his former boss, Rep. Nunes appearing on Fox News late last month, publicly advising him to file suit.
The man who is suing a cow on Twitter has legal advice for Kash Patel on suing someone for defamation pic.twitter.com/17NmmhbRre
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) October 31, 2019
This past March, Devin Nunes filed suit against his trolls on Twitter, which led to mass mockery and the rise of @DevinCow, an anonymous cow/user whose social media reach parallels the Republican legislator’s reach of greater than six-hundred thousand followers. Asked for comment by Direct Message about the Republican congressman’s latest libel lawsuit, @DevinCow replied:
Since then, he has filed another libel lawsuit against McClatchy, the parent company of his local newspaper the Fresno Bee.
The larger issue remains that Kash Patel appears to have been caught with his hand inside the cookie jar by advising President Trump on matters that are the subject of the House’s impeachment inquiry.
Republicans keep complaining that there are not enough firsthand witnesses to the President’s corrupt scheme, and so does Patel about his role in the affair.
By filing suit against Politico and its star national security reporter Bertrand, Kash Patel runs the genuine risk that they’ll use the discovery process to get to the bottom of his real role in the Trump administration’s Ukraine bribery plot.
Here’s a copy of the lawsuit:
What do you think?
Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report. Find out more at grantstern.com.