Former Trump adviser Patel: Trump had been working on declassifying docs while in White House
Patel is also a former chief of staff to the acting Secretary of Defense in Trump administration
Former Trump adviser Kash Patel said Monday the former president had been working on declassifying documents relating to "RussiaGate" before leaving the White House.
"The president had been working on these for a while – to issue declassification orders and did issue declassification orders," Patel said on the John Solomon Reports podcast.
Patel made the comment following the FBI's raid of former President Trump's Florida estate by agents who were looking for document Trump took when leaving the White House, instead of turning them over to the National Archives.
Trump and his team have argued amid the Justice Department investigation on the matter – and subsequent court proceedings regarding evidence the federal government used to get a affidavit and search warrant for the raid – that the former president had declassified the materials at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
His team has also said some of the material seized was protected by attorney-client privilege.
"One of the times in the Oval Office he had RussiaGate docs. And he said that these are declassified and the American public needs to see them," Patel also said, referring to the now-debunked argument that the 2016 Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russia to help them win the election.
Patel also acknowledged on the podcast the existence of documents related to the dispute besides those regarding collusion.
In addition, Patel said others in the Trump White House witnessed the former president declassify documents, but he could not recall who.
"It's incumbent upon the DOJ and FBI to show that this material was not declassified, and whether or not it was handled improperly or properly," Patel said. "There's a whole other debate that's already been settled by the DOJ and FBI application of these statutes to Hillary Clinton."
The Justice Department looked into whether Clinton as secretary of state has mishandled emails with possible sensitive information but concluded in 2016 that she had not "deliberately" done so.
The affidavit regarding the FBI raid was made public Friday, but much of it was redacted. The FBI's argument, in part, for blocking out information was to protect witnesses involved in the investigation, but Patel's name was not redacted.
"These individuals intentionally decided to politicize this affidavit for many reasons," he said. "But one, which I wasn't even expecting them to do, was put my name out there. It's added absolutely no value by every procedure at the Department of Justice in relation to protecting parties and people's names.
"They did it for a political effect because they wanted to try to silence me and President Trump and everybody else and get the mainstream media to threaten me, which they've done."