The Collegian
Wednesday, September 28, 2022

UR alumnus named in FBI Mar-a-Lago affidavit

<p>Kash Patel, a former Trump official and UR class of 2002 alumnus, was named in the FBI's affidavit for the search warrant of the former president's residence. Photo by Sgt. Keisha Brown, U.S. Army.</p>

Kash Patel, a former Trump official and UR class of 2002 alumnus, was named in the FBI's affidavit for the search warrant of the former president's residence. Photo by Sgt. Keisha Brown, U.S. Army.

Editor's note: A previous version of this article stated that Kash Patel's book, "The Plot Against the King," dealt with the 2020 election. The book mocks Hillary Clinton and the 2016 presidential election.

University of Richmond alumnus and adviser to former President Donald Trump, Kash Patel, ‘02, was named in an FBI investigation into Trump’s potential mishandling of classified documents.

On Aug. 26, the U.S. Department of Justice released a heavily redacted version of an affidavit FBI agents used to obtain a warrant for their Aug. 8 search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort residence for classified records. While the DOJ redacted many names, Patel’s was revealed in connection with his comments that Trump had already declassified the documents. FBI agents and the National Archives and Records Association officials retrieved those documents from Mar-a-Lago, an FBI agent wrote in the affidavit.

“I am aware of an article published in Breitbart…which states that Kash Patel…characterized as ‘misleading’ reports in other news organizations that NARA had found classified materials among records that FPOTUS provided to NARA from Mar-a-Lago,” an FBI agent wrote in the affidavit. “Patel alleged that such reports were misleading because FPOTUS had declassified materials on the issue.”

The DOJ did not specify why Patel’s name was left in the affidavit.

Patel is originally from Garden City, New York. He majored in history while at UR before going on to serve in several high-level government positions on the National Security Council and as chief of staff for the acting U.S. secretary of defense under Trump. Several news organizations including NBC News, CNN and ABC News also identify Patel as a "Trump loyalist."

In June 2022, Trump granted Patel access to presidential documents, including those related to the FBI’s investigation of Russia’s potential interference in the 2016 presidential election known as “Russiagate," according to an ABC News article 

Allies of Trump have been trying for years to declassify documents from “Russiagate,” claiming they contain information supporting Trump’s statement that the investigation was baseless, according to the ABC News report.

Patel then said that he would retrieve the classified documents related to “Russiagate” from the National Archives and publish them on his website in a June 21 interview ABC News covered. Patel did not say how he would legally declassify or obtain the documents.

Patel posted a statement on Trump’s social media platform, Truth Social, writing that the DOJ put his personal safety at risk by leaving his name in the affidavit.

“Today marks another vicious attack from [the] DOJ/FBI who intentionally jeopardized my safety by un-redacting my name in the most reviewed search warrant in the history of the United States,” Patel wrote. “This same FBI has been investigating death threats made against me due to baseless political overreach by government gangsters and in their greed for political vengeance, have threatened my safety again…Brown lives matter. These gangsters are on notice.”

Patel did not respond to The Collegian’s request for comment.

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Junior Brady Lang, chairman of the Richmond College Republicans, said it was odd that the DOJ revealed Patel’s name and that it could put Patel in danger. 

Lang also said the main focus of the investigation was if the documents FBI agents found were classified and disagreed with how agents handled the investigation. 

“I think a lot of what the FBI was doing here was a fear tactic because President Trump has cooperated pretty fully with the FBI in this operation and they haven’t been able to find anything,” Lang said. “According to some, [Trump] didn't follow the complete process of declassifying them, which may be true, but according to him, he did declassify them so it will be interesting to see what happens.”

Senior Lexi Cobbs, president of the Richmond College Democrats, expressed disappointment in Patel’s reaction and involvement with the FBI investigation. 

Patel’s efforts to prosecute journalists through the Kash Patel Legal Offense Trust and the children's book he authored – "The Plot Against the King," which critics say spreads potentially false information about the 2016 presidential election – are abhorrent, Cobbs said. 

“We hope UR alumni will align themselves with leaders that better represent democratic values,” Cobbs said.

Since May 2021, NARA officials have attempted to retrieve possibly classified documents from Trump officials – as required by the Presidential Records Act. Established in 1978, following the Watergate scandal, The Presidential Records Act states that presidential records are the property of the U.S. government, not presidents themselves, according to NARA.

After receiving 15 boxes containing classified documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Jan. 2022, NARA officials believed Trump officials hid more documents at Mar-a-Lago and referred the situation to the DOJ. By Feb. 2022, the FBI had launched a criminal investigation into the Trump administration’s handling of presidential documents.

On Aug. 5, FBI agents obtained a search warrant to investigate Mar-a-Lago further, citing violations of the Espionage Act, the Presidential Records Act and obstruction of justice. The investigation culminated on Aug. 8, when FBI agents entered Mar-a-Lago and retrieved over two dozen boxes containing classified materials.

To acquire a search warrant to investigate Mar-a-Lago, FBI agents provided proof of probable cause of criminal activity by the Trump administration in the form of the affidavit that mentions Patel.

The consequences Patel may face are unclear because FBI agents have not yet identified all potential “criminal confederates” or “criminal parties,” Pippa Holloway, a history professor with specialties in politics and law, wrote in an email to The Collegian.

“If Patel thinks there is a chance that the phrases 'criminal confederates' or 'criminal parties' includes him, he should hire a criminal defense attorney immediately,” Holloway said.

Contact news writer Katie Castellani at katie.castellani@richmond.edu.

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