Kash Patel, a former high-level aide in the Trump administration, has been granted immunity by the Justice Department to testify before a federal grand jury investigating the handling of classified documents by former President Donald Trump, according to reports.
A federal judge recently ruled that the Justice Department could not compel Patel to testify without offering him protection from prosecution for any incriminating information he provided during his appearance, the Wall Street Journal reported late Wednesday.
Patel, a former chief of staff to acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller in the final days of the Trump administration, cited his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during an appearance before the grand jury last month.
The immunity paves the way for Patel, who is on record saying Trump declassified the documents before leaving office, to answer questions about the materials seized by the FBI during the Aug. 8 raid at Mar-a-Lago, the report said.
But Patel could still be changed if information is uncovered independent of his testimony.
Patel was named by Trump to act as a liaison with the National Archives and Records Administration, which initially sought the documents beginning in May 2021.
He is expected to be grilled about how the reams of documents ended up at Trump’s Florida resort, whether they were classified and whether the former president took actions to keep the materials from the federal government.
Patel has said publicly that Trump declassified the documents as he prepared to exit the White House in January 2021.
“The White House counsel failed to generate the paperwork to change the classification markings, but that doesn’t mean the information wasn’t declassified,” Patel told Breitbart News in May.
“I was there with President Trump when he said ‘We are declassifying this information,’” Patel told the outlet.
Trump, in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity in September, said as president he was able to make the decision to declassify the documents.
“If you’re the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying, ‘It’s declassified.’ Even by thinking about it,” Trump told Hannity.
A number of key issues surrounding the handling of the classified materials, including the president’s declassification abilities, are working their way through court challenges.
FBI agents removed roughly 11,000 documents – about 100 of which contained classified markings – from Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8.