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White House official sues Politico, Schiff named as key figure in coordinated smear

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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While it may not always be an expected source, the Trump administration is fighting back against alleged fake news and the quest to impeach President Donald Trump.

White House official Kash Patel filed a lawsuit on Monday against Politico and one of its reporters, saying that he was falsely accused of “lying, deceit and unethical conduct,” Fox News reported.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who is characterized as “a demagogue with an axe to grind against the president,” is also named in the legal action.

Patel, the National Security Council’s senior counterterrorism director, is seeking over $25 million in damages in leveling allegations that, according to Fox News, “go to the heart of the case for impeachment.”

Politico owner Robert Allbritton and reporter Natasha Bertrand, who is an MSNBC contributor, are named in the lawsuit that is based on Bertrand’s Oct. 23 story, titled “Nunes Protege Fed Ukraine Info to Trump.”

Before joining the White House earlier this year, Patel worked for Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who was chairman of the House Intel Committee prior to the 2018 election.

Bertrand reported:

A protégé of Republican Rep. Devin Nunes was among those passing negative information about Ukraine to President Donald Trump earlier this year, fueling the president’s belief that Ukraine was brimming with corruption and interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Democrats.

Kashyap Patel, a longtime Nunes staffer who joined the White House in February, was so involved in the issue that at one point Trump thought he was in charge of Ukraine policy for the National Security Council, according to congressional testimony by Fiona Hill, the former senior director for European and Russian Affairs whose portfolio included Ukraine.

According to Patel’s lawsuit, “at no time” before Oct. 30 “had Kash ever communicated with the president on any matters involving Ukraine. Kash never supplied any Ukraine ‘materials’ to the president.”

Schiff, the current chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who is heading up the Democrats’ partisan impeachment inquiry, is a central figure in the lawsuit.

Patel claims the defendants “acted in concert” with Rep. Schiff or his aides to further the impeachment probe, Fox News reported. The alleged motivation being to “destroy Kash’s reputation” as a lawyer and an aide to the president in furtherance of “Schiff’s baseless Ukrainian quid pro quo hoax.”

The legal action reportedly stems from leaks by Intel committee staff of closed-door testimony of Hill and NSC official Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.

More from Fox News on the lawsuit:

A second story by Bertrand, on Oct. 30, quoted sources as saying Vindman told lawmakers that Patel “‘misrepresented’ himself” to Trump “in an effort to involve himself further in Ukraine policy, according to two people familiar with his closed-door deposition.” The piece said the president “believed at the time” that Patel “was actually the NSC’s top Ukraine expert instead of Vindman,” despite Patel’s lack of experience with Ukraine. This, Politico said, highlighted “the unusual steps top NSC officials were taking as early as May to avoid angering or annoying the president on Ukraine issues,” and “feeding Trump’s belief that Ukraine was brimming with corruption and had interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Democrats.”

The lawsuit contends — and this is certain to be contested — that if Politico “had bothered to wait for the transcript, they would have learned that Hill completely fabricated the story that Kash had provided ‘materials on Ukraine’ to the president.”

Tom Tillison


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