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Who is Kash Patel? Trump Loyalist Wants to Build Influence and Power

Who is Kash Patel? Trump Loyalist Wants to Build Influence and Power

FILE - Former Pentagon Chief of Staff Kash Patel waves to the crowd as he speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2024, at the National Harbor, in Oxon Hill, Maryland, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024.
FILE – Former Pentagon Chief of Staff Kash Patel waves to the crowd as he speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2024, at the National Harbor, in Oxon Hill, Maryland, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024.José Luis Magana/AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Kash Patel, a national security adviser and player in Donald Trump’s political circle, is widely expected to take on an influential role in the federal government if the former president wins a second term.

A swaggering campaign surrogate who mythologizes the former president while promoting his own brand, Patel has a pedigree that sets him apart from many of Trump’s other advisers. He often cites that experience — as a lawyer, a federal prosecutor, a top House aide and a national security official — as he vows to dump Trump’s disloyalties and attacks the intelligence community he might one day oversee.

Here are some important things you should know about Patel:

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How did he gain this influence?

After graduating from Pace University Law School, Patel failed to secure a job at the prestigious law firms he had hoped to join. Instead, he became a public defender and spent nearly nine years working in local and federal courts in Miami before joining the Department of Justice.

A little over three years later, Patel was hired as a staffer for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, headed by Representative Devin Nunes, a staunch Trump ally.

Nunes put Patel in charge of the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.

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Patel helped write what has become known as the “Nunes Memo,” a four-page report that detailed how the Justice Department erred in obtaining a warrant to spy on a former Trump campaign volunteer. The memo’s release was met with fierce resistance from the Justice Department. A subsequent inspector general’s report identified significant problems with FBI surveillance during the Russia investigation but also found no evidence that the FBI acted with bias in conducting the investigation.

The memo caught Trump’s attention, and Patel soon found himself working at the National Security Council and later taking on increasingly important roles. He briefly served as the chief adviser to the then-acting director of national intelligence and was tapped in November 2020 as chief of staff to acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller.

What has he been doing since Trump left office?

Patel, 44, sits on the board of directors of Trump Media and Technology Group, which owns Truth Social, and had a consulting contract with the company that paid him $120,000 a year. And Trump’s leadership PAC has paid Patel more than $300,000 since early last year to serve as the former president’s national security adviser, according to campaign finance records and public filings obtained by Truth Social.

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Shortly after Trump left the White House in January 2021, Patel launched Fight with Kash, an organization that funds defamation lawsuits and sells a wide range of merchandise, including branded socks and water bottles, sweatshirts and baseball caps, and a card game featuring Trump as the CCE and a bumbling Joe Biden in a jester costume as the king.

The organization has since become The Kash Foundation, a nonprofit that claims to support whistleblowers, law enforcement and education in “areas not covered by the mainstream media.”

Patel has said he will not make money from the foundation and has publicly pledged to be transparent about where the foundation spends its resources.

However, the foundation has released few details about its finances, and Patel’s comments about his organization’s spending appear to be inconsistent with public records.

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Patel said in early 2023 that his charity had given out nearly $100,000 the year before. The defamation lawsuits funded by the charity covered the costs of sending children to camp and providing holiday meals for the needy, Patel said. But the charity filed a report with the IRS a few months later showing that it had given away only about $55,000 to unidentified entities in 2022.

Patel has also been busy writing books. Last year he published his memoir — “Government Gangsters: The Deep State, the Truth, and the Battle for Our Democracy” — and he is the author of two children’s books that glorify Trump. “The Plot Against the King” casts a thinly veiled Hillary Clinton as the villain who goes after “King Donald,” while Kash, a magician called the Distinguished Discoverer, uncovers a sinister plot.

What are his plans if he returns to government?

In his final months in office, Trump unsuccessfully pushed the idea of ​​installing Patel as deputy director of either the FBI or the CIA in an effort to tighten the president’s control over the intelligence community. “Patel had virtually no experience that would qualify him to serve at the highest levels of the world’s preeminent law enforcement agency,” Trump Attorney General Bill Barr wrote in his memoir. But such a role could be in Patel’s future if Trump wins a second term.

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Patel has made clear that he is aligned with the former president on most national security issues, including the purging of intelligence officials seen as disloyal. He has spoken publicly about his desire to prosecute Trump’s political enemies within the administration, as well as members of the media.

During an interview with Steve Bannon in December, Patel said he and others are “going to go out and find the conspirators, not just in government, but in the media,” regarding the 2020 election, which Trump lost to Democrat Joe Biden. “We’re going to go after the people in the media who lied about American citizens helping Joe Biden rig the presidential election,” he said. “We’re going to go after you, whether it’s criminal or civil. We’re going to find out. But yes, we’re warning you all.”

Contact AP’s global investigative team at [email protected].

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An earlier version of this story said Patel had a consulting contract with Trump Media and Technology Group. That contract ended in March.