The congressional staffer who wrote the controversial memo for Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) was once benchslapped by a federal judge for “ineptitude.”
Kash Patel, a top Nunes staffer and senior counsel for the House Intelligence Committee, traveled to London last summer to question the former British spy who wrote the Trump-Russia dossier.
Patel and another Nunes staffer, Doug Presely, went on the research mission without notifying the U.S. embassy or British government.
They also failed to inform the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) or GOP Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), who took over the panel’s Russia probe after Nunes stepped aside over ethics concerns.
The pair, along with intel committee staffers Damon Nelson and Andrew House, wrote most of the memo the White House and House Republicans claims exposes FBI wrongdoing and justifies ending the special counsel investigation into Russian campaign interference.
Patel was issued a rare “order of ineptitude” in 2016 by U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes, who faulted the lawyer’s handling of the prosecution of Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, who was accused of trying to support ISIS.
“If the pretentious lawyers from ‘main’ justice knew what they were doing — or had the humility to ask for help from the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Texas,” Hughes wrote, “it would not have taken three days, seven telephone calls, three voicemail messages and one snippy electronic message for them to indirectly ask the court for assistance in ordering a transcript.”
The judge told the ABA Journal that he couldn’t discuss the order because the case was still pending, but Hughes thought his benchslap was clear.
“If the order is not self-explanatory, I failed,” Hughes said.
The judge admonished Patel from the bench after he arrived in court, shortly after a flight, without proper attire.
“You’re not a member of the trial team,” Hughes said. “It’s been going on for a month or so and you haven’t been here, have you?”
“And where is your tie?” the judge said. “Where is your suit?”
Hughes then demanded Patel’s passport to prove he’d just arrived from an overseas flight, and he asked why he had been chosen to participate if there were other prosecutors nearby in the U.S. Attorney’s office.
“What is the utility to me and to the people of America to have you fly down here at their expense, eat at their expense and stay at their expense when there are plenty of capable people over there, in this room plus over there?” Hughes said. “You’re just one more nonessential employee from Washington.”
“You don’t add a bit of value, do you?” the judge added.
Other lawyers said they’d never an attorney slapped so hard from the bench.
“It is just a slap in the face, is what it is,” South Texas law professor Geoffrey Corn told the Houston Chronicle. “When you are a judge, you get the prerogative of saying what you feel and putting it in a Ruling of Ineptitude. I’ve never seen anything like that.”
The Washington Post described the spectacle as “a Texas-size bollocking over proper attire, wasting taxpayer money and spying for the bureaucrats in Washington.”