Legal experts weighed in after CNN reported one of Donald Trump’s representatives before the National Records and Archives Administration testified before the federal grand jury investigating the document the FBI recovered from Mar-a-Lago.
“Kash Patel, a top adviser to former President Donald Trump who has been deeply involved in disputes over classified records Trump kept from his presidency, appeared recently before the federal grand jury looking into the handling of documents at Mar-a-Lago,” CNN reported, citing “sources familiar with the matter.”
Patel reportedly spent hours inside the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C.
“He is one of a handful of advisers around Donald Trump after his presidency who could have legal risk related to the Mar-a-Lago situation, according to court records and the sources, though it’s unclear if he is a target of the Justice Department probe,” CNN noted. “He has claimed in media interviews he personally witnessed Trump declassifying records before he left the presidency, and has argued he should be able to release classified information.”
Legal experts said the report was a significant development in the Mar-a-Lago case, which has increasingly been referred to by the acronym MAL.
“Well we know what this is about: testing his story about the MAL docs having been declassified in some secret order. Prosecutors must have had a field day picking that story apart!” tweeted former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann.
Weissman, now a professor at NYU Law and MSNBC legal analyst, was the lead prosecutor on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
“Shows Trump is target and DOJ is heading toward indictment,” Weissmann wrote.
Former Pentagon special counsel Ryan Goodman began a Twitter thread with, “this is a big deal.”
Goodman said he expected federal prosecutors to ask, “Were you acting as an agent of, or in concert with, Donald J. Trump when you described, repeatedly, Trump’s plan to publicly disseminate the documents? You have sometimes suggested you may have had access to MAL documents, that you knew their content. Did you?”
Goodman noted, “if the answer is yes, it will get Trump into a huge new problem for dissemination of national defense info.”
“Patel is the inner, inner circle for Trump when it comes to the MAL investigation,” he noted. “Note the location of that federal grand jury: The District of Columbia. Goes to where DOJ is most likely to bring an indictment (not in Florida).”
Goodman’s thread was noted by Harvard Law’s Laurence Tribe.
“A great thread: Trump’s indictment in D.C. — note the venue — is on its way . . .” Tribe predicted.
Former DOJ spokesperson Matthew Miller also noted the location of the grand jury.
“Safe to say we can retire the notion DOJ was only interested in getting the docs back and nothing more,” Miller wrote.