House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) “acted in concert” with Politico to leak allegedly false information from the impeachment inquiry as part of a “scheme” to advance the “inquisition” against President Donald Trump, according to an explosive defamation lawsuit filed by a senior Trump White House official on Monday.
White House official Kash Patel, who is a senior counterterrorism official on the National Security Council (NSC), filed the lawsuit in Virginia court in which he says Schiff “weaponized the media” to advance his impeachment agenda.
Patel is a former staffer to the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who later moved to the White House in the NSC to advise the president on national security and intelligence matters.
Patel on Monday filed the defamation suit in Virginia state court against Politico, Natasha Bertrand, a reporter for the establishment media outlet, and Robert Allbritton, the publisher and executive chairman of the media organization, all identified as defendants.
Patel accuses the defendants of defaming him by working with Schiff and members of his staff to disseminate false stories about him.
In the lawsuit, Patel alleges:
Defendants intentionally employed a scheme or artifice to defame Kash with the intent to undermine the President’s confidence in Kash and to further Schiff’s impeachment inquisition. Defendants acted in concert with Schiff to accomplish an unlawful purpose through unlawful means, without regard for Kash’s rights and interests.
Defendants abandoned all journalistic integrity and violated their own code of ethics in order to further the conspiracy with Schiff. Defendants did not seek truth; report truth; minimize harm; act independently; and they most certainly were not transparent.
In particular, Patel accuses Bertrand of writing two false stories for Politico claiming the NSC official was feeding Trump negative information about Ukraine and misrepresenting himself as an expert on the Eastern European country to the U.S. president.
Politico, however, refuses “to retract or clarify” the allegedly false stories. Breitbart News reported on the false information publicized about Patel by Politico and the New York Times.
The defamation lawsuit, which only deals with Politico, states:
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 [former former senior advisor and European and Russian affairs specialist who served on the NSC Fiona] Hill and [NSC Director of European Affairs Lt. Col. Alexander] 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.
The joint collaborative purpose of the leaks was to publish Hill and Vindman’s false and defamatory statements, including Hill and Vindman’s egregious personal attacks on Kash, so as to further Schiff and Politico’s interests in harming the President and advancing the impeachment inquisition. In furtherance of the conspiracy, Bertrand secretly communicated with Schiff or his staff via encrypted email, including proton-mail, and messaging services, such as Signal.
Patel alleges Politico knew the information it was publishing about him was false. He claims in the suit:
Between October 23, 2019, and November 8, 2019, the Defendants, acting in concert with Schiff, made, published and republished numerous false factual statements of or concerning Kash without privilege of any kind. … On November 8, 2019, Schiff released the transcripts of Hill and Vindman’s closed-door, secret interviews conducted in the Capitol Visitor Center. The transcripts demonstrate that Politico, Bertrand, Schiff, and his staffers misled the public in the First and Second Politico Pieces, and intentionally lied about the substance of Hill and Vindman’s interviews.
Politico, Bertrand, and Allbritton knew that Schiff had a preconceived agenda that he was actively promoting. They knew about Schiff’s extreme bias and hatred of President Trump. Significantly, they also knew that Schiff was a wholly unreliable source because of his penchant to tell lies and to mislead.
Patel vehemently denies the allegations made by Bertrand, noting in the court document:
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. Kash is proud of his record as a dedicated national security professional who is entrusted to handle our nation’s most sensitive matters. At no time did Kash stray from his mission to protect the homeland in service to the President and the NSC.
Patel is seeking the sum of about $25,000,000 or more for the defamation he suffered and “presumed damages and actual damages, including, but not limited to, insult, pain, embarrassment, humiliation, mental suffering, injury to his reputation, special damages, costs, and other out-of-pocket expenses.”
He is demanding a trial by jury.
The significance of this lawsuit’s filing is that Bertrand’s Politico story on Patel came based off of testimony provided behind closed doors to the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry by Fiona Hill and Alexander Vindman. They both alleged, incorrectly, in their testimony that Patel had secret meetings with President Trump on Ukraine matters and provided the president with documents on Ukraine. But as Breitbart News has already reported, while these Democrat impeachment witnesses Hill and Vindman may have testified in Schiff’s private impeachment inquiry to that effect, it was not accurate. Patel has since publicly confirmed he has never spoken with the president about Ukraine.
Politico’s decision to print the false testimony of Hill and Vindman as fact, which Patel’s lawsuit makes clear was in close coordination with Schiff and his team on Capitol Hill, could seriously cost the media outlet. Other media outlets that printed the inaccuracies could also end up on the chopping block as well, but for now Patel is focused on Politico with this lawsuit.
The timing of the lawsuit’s filing is also important in that both Vindman and Hill will be testifying in public hearings this week as part of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into President Trump.