Donald Trump adviser Kash Patel on Friday confirmed that he testified to the grand jury hearing evidence in the federal probe of whether the former president illegally took classified records with him when he left the White House in 2021.
The FBI in August seized more than 11,000 documents, including about 100 pages marked as classified, from Trump's Mar-a-Lago home in Florida, and the U.S. Justice Department is probing whether Trump broke federal law by taking them as well as whether he obstructed the investigation into the missing papers.
Patel would be a key witness because he was one of Trump's representatives to the National Archives.
"His testimony was compelled over his objection through the only legal means available to the government - a grant of limited immunity," spokesperson Eric Knight said in a statement issued on Patel's behalf.
Prosecutors have said they have evidence that Trump or his associates may have tried to conceal or hide records from the FBI even after receiving a May 2022 grand jury subpoena ordering him to return the materials.
In the FBI's sworn statement underpinning the search, investigators explicitly cited public statements Patel made claiming, without evidence, that Trump had declassified all of the seized materials.
Trump, who is flirting with another run for the White House,has filed a civil lawsuit asking U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to appoint a special master to review the seized materials for anything that could be subject to either attorney-client privilege or executive privilege.
Cannon later appointed U.S. Judge Raymond Dearie as special master; he is reviewing all of the seized materials, except for those marked as classified. The Justice Department is also currently appealing Cannon's order to appoint a special master.
Prosecutors previously tried to compel Patel to testify before the grand jury, but he had asserted his right against self-incrimination, protected by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a person familiar with the matter said.
In a closed-door court hearing, the U.S. District Court's chief judge recently ruled that prosecutors could not compel Patel to testify without offering him immunity, the person said.
Trump is contemplating kicking off another run for president in the weeks between Tuesday's midterm elections and the Nov. 24 Thanksgiving holiday, three Trump advisers said this week.
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