National security expert explains why Kash Patel could still end up in prison — even with immunity
Kash Patel participates in panel at CPAC Texas 2022 conference at Hilton Anatole. (Shutterstock.com)

Mary McCord, a visiting professor at Georgetown University Law School and former Justice Department acting assistant attorney general for national security, told MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace that Kash Patel isn't out of the woods, even if he was given immunity.

It was reported Thursday that Donald Trump's aide, Kash Patel, was granted immunity by the DOJ to answer questions about the stolen White House documents that ended up at the former president's country club in Palm Beach.

"Patel’s testimony is considered crucial to answering the question of whether or not Trump declassified any of the documents he took with him to his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago. Patel says he heard Trump verbally order the government secrets declassified," wrote CNBC about the report.

Giving Patel immunity doesn't mean that he won't be prosecuted if he commits a crime.

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"So, you know, the Department of Justice relies on cooperators in many many cases, criminal cases, and it does offer use immunity, sometimes even to people who they believe have committed crimes because that person, if they're important enough and can provide the evidence that the government thinks is even more important to go after a bigger fish," explained McCord.

Wallace equated it to a mob prosecution.

"Exactly," McCord agreed. "So, they're used to dealing with some characters who aren't always that credible and who are criminals, frankly. And so here I think what they're thinking about is he is so central to this, he's been so close to Trump on this issue, he's been out there spreading this story about declassification, and so they want to talk to him and get the real deal. I want to make sure people understand what use immunity is. That doesn't mean Kash Patel can't be prosecuted for the handling of information or the obstruction of justice. It means the prosecution can't use what he says in the grand jury or anything derived directly from that. So, if there were other evidence of his criminal culpability. It also doesn't immunize him from lying — from committing perjury."

McCord explained that if Patel goes into the courtroom and continues with the story about declassification but it can be proven otherwise, he'll be charged for it.

"Sso there are limitations on what it does," she said. "But I think the department here has just made this assessment that, you know, they need to hear what he has to say and by giving him that immunity. They probably are putting pressure on him. He probably feels the heat of potential criminal charges if he's part of this, and so, you know, I think they just made that assessment that it was worth it here."

She also noted that Patel he used to be in the national security division and worked for him as she served as the acting assistant attorney general. Ironically, Patel was a counter-terrorism prosecutor.

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