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Trump White House received declassification wishlist, ex-investigator says

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A declassification wishlist was sent to former President Donald Trump’s White House by members of Congress, according to a former Pentagon official who also served as a top investigator for the House Intelligence Committee.On that list, Kash Patel said, was a classified House Intelligence Committee report which criticized the analytic tradecraft in the Obama administration’s 2017 Intelligence Community assessment’s conclusions about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s motivations in the interference campaign leading to the 2016 election. However, despite an eleventh-hour declassification order by Trump before he left office last month, it has remained outside the public’s view.

“I don’t know if he personally signaled it,” Patel told RealClearInvestigations when asked if Trump ever personally indicated that he wanted that particular document released. “I know it was included in a list of documents that … some members of Congress were seeking to have declassified and I know that list made its way to the White House.”

Patel, who is often described as a Trump loyalist, did not disclose which lawmakers sent the list, or who at the White House received it.

On the evening of Jan. 19, the day before President Biden’s inauguration, the White House announced Trump ordered the declassification of documents related to the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation, the Russia-focused inquiry that Republicans have long criticized as being a drawn-out campaign to drag the 45th president. Five weeks later, there remains an air of mystery about the documents covered by the order; only a smattering appears to have been revealed in scattered media reporting, but there have been no significant bombshells.

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Patel last worked as chief of staff to acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller after serving as a National Security Council staffer and a top aide to now-former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell. Before that, he was an aide to Republicans when they controlled the House Intelligence Committee under Chairman Devin Nunes, assisting their own investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia. Democrats decried that effort as a partisan scheme to shield Trump from special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry.

Patel said pushback from the intelligence community impeded their efforts to have the secret report made public, citing national security concerns such as risking sources and methods, although he insisted that their efforts conducted in a “professional fashion” that did not sacrifice lives or crucial relationships.

The classified materials, based on the House Republicans’ 2018 report on Russian election interference, is held in a secure location at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, according to an October report from the New York Times that noted John Ratcliffe, who was Trump’s final director of national intelligence, paid a visit in August to view it. The report cited sources who said the House Intelligence Committee documents criticized the tradecraft of the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment and raised doubts that Putin sought to boost Trump in 2016 rather than simply create mayhem during the election. Around the same time, Ratcliffe announced that he provided nearly 1,000 documents to assist with special counsel John Durham’s criminal inquiry into the Russia investigation, which remains active.

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As for the secret House Intelligence Committee documents, they are “still sitting in a safe and classified and unfortunately the American public, unless Biden acts, won’t see it,” according to Patel, who cited that report and still-classified portions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against 2016 Trump campaign adviser Carter Page as the two things at the top of his own declassification wishlist.

 

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