- The Washington Times - Monday, November 18, 2019

A White House analyst filed a defamation lawsuit Monday against Politico and a reporter for two stories the complaint says falsely accused the analyst of hijacking Ukraine policy-making and intervening with President Trump.

Kashyap “Kash” Patel, a former investigator for Rep. Devin Nunes and now a National Security Council staffer, also says in his suit that Rep. Adam B. Schiff orchestrated press leaks against him.

The lawsuit seeks $25 million in damages and names Politico owner Robert L. Allbritton and reporter Natasha Bertrand.

Brad Dayspring, Politico’s vice president of communications and marketing, issued a statement to The Washington Times: “This lawsuit is high on bombast and low on merit. It is unserious and is a public relations tactic designed to intimidate journalists and media organizations from doing their job.”

The Democrats’ push to impeach Mr. Trump is centered on Ukraine foreign policy.

Linking Mr. Patel to Ukraine ensnares a former close aide to Mr. Nunes, California Republican and the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Mr. Patel helped write the House Intelligence Committee’s 2018 report that exonerated Mr. Trump in the Russia election investigation.

The two Politico stories stemmed from closed-door depositions by two NSC staffers — Fiona Hill, a former senior adviser and European and Russian affairs specialist, and Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director of European affairs.

The articles, based on leaks and released transcripts, said Mr. Patel went outside his NSC lane and funneled Ukraine material to Mr. Trump. Upon the transcripts’ public release, Mr. Patel said such contact never happened.

Mr. Schiff of California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is leading the Democrats’ impeachment drive.

Democrats say Mr. Trump committed bribery by holding up military aid to Ukraine until Kyiv opened investigations into the 2016 campaign and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Republicans reject that charge, saying a phone call transcript of Mr. Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shows no quid pro quo. They say the aid was held up from early July to early September for unrelated reasons.

Mr. Patel’s lawsuit in Virginia state court states, in part, according to Breitbart News: “Between October 14, 2019, and November 8, 2019, Politico and Bertrand colluded, collaborated and conspired with Schiff to defame Kash. Schiff, or members of his staff or aides acting at his direction, leaked to Bertrand the closed-door testimony that Hill and Vindman gave in the subfloor of the Capitol Visitor Center. The leaks occurred in real-time. Schiff leaked the testimony to Bertrand because Schiff knew that it would be a violation of House Rules and Committee Rules for Schiff to publish the substance of the testimony himself.”

Ms. Hill, a Brookings Institution scholar, was recruited in 2017 as the NSC’s Russia expert and resigned last summer.

She testified in closed deposition that she heard that Mr. Patel was feeding Ukraine material to the president. She said she had no firsthand knowledge.

“Let’s just say it’s a red flag when somebody who you barely know is involved on one of your policy issues and is clearly providing, you know, materials outside of the line that we don’t even know what those materials are,” she said.

Ms. Hill said she removed Mr. Patel from her email distribution list.

In his testimony Col. Vindman, the NSC’s Ukraine expert, said that what he knew about Mr. Patel came from Ms. Hill. He had no independent knowledge, he said.

Upon the transcripts’ release, Mr. Patel issued a statement denying the allegation.

“Any reporting to the contrary, and any testimony provided to Congress, is simply false, and any current or former staff who suggest I have raised or discussed Ukraine matters with President Trump are similarly misinformed or spreading outright falsehoods,” Mr. Patel said.

An Oct. 30 Politico story by Ms. Bertrand said: “The decorated Army officer who testified to House investigators on Tuesday told lawmakers that a close associate of Republican Rep. Devin Nunes ‘misrepresented’ himself to President Donald Trump in an effort to involve himself further in Ukraine policy, according to two people familiar with his closed-door deposition.”

This is the story that Mr. Patel claims came from Mr. Schiff or his aides. The word “misrepresented” does not appear in a Vindman transcript quote. He testified that the information on Mr. Patel came from Ms. Hill. He said he heard nothing further and never met Mr. Patel.

The lawsuit states: “Defendants’ reporting was categorically and knowingly false. At no time prior to October 30, 2019, had Kash ever communicated with the President on any matters involving Ukraine. Kash never supplied any Ukraine ‘materials’ to the President.”

Mr. Nunes has been battling the liberal media ever since he took control of the Russia investigation as the House Intelligence Committee chairman. He accuses major media of conspiring with Mr. Schiff to create a Trump-Russia election conspiracy that never happened.

Former special counsel Robert Mueller said that after a 22-month FBI investigation he could not establish a conspiracy.

In April, Mr. Nunes filed a libel lawsuit against the McClatchy newspaper chain for what he called “character assassination.”

As chairman, Mr. Nunes, working with Mr. Patel, discovered that a now-discredited anti-Trump dossier was funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.

Amid protests from Mr. Schiff, he forced the FBI to turn over documents that showed that former FBI Director James B. Comey and other bureau officials relied on the dossier as evidence to obtain at least one wiretap on a Trump associate.

• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

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