Former Nunes staffer fueled Trump's Ukrainian corruption claims: report

A former staffer for Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesTrump denies report that he still uses personal cell phone for calls The Hill's Morning Report - Dem dilemma on articles of impeachment Conservative Dan Bongino launches alternative to the Drudge Report MORE (R-Calif.) who joined the White House in February was reportedly so deeply involved in feeding President TrumpDonald John TrumpPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump FBI identifies Pensacola shooter as Saudi Royal Saudi Air Force second lieutenant Trump calls Warren 'Pocahontas,' knocks wealth tax MORE negative information about Ukraine that Trump thought he was in charge of the nation's portfolio at the National Security Council (NSC).

Politico reported Wednesday that Kashyap Patel, a former aide to Nunes whom The New York Times previously reported was the author of a memo released by House Republicans accusing federal intelligence officials of harboring a bias against the president, was among those who influenced Trump's beliefs that Kiev is rife with corruption and interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of the Democrats.

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Politico's report is based on an account of House impeachment inquiry testimony from Fiona Hill, the president's former top adviser on affairs in former Soviet countries including Ukraine.

The news is the first confirmation of support for Trump's aggressive Ukraine policy from a member of the NSC, and comes as the former national security adviser, John BoltonJohn BoltonThe shifting impeachment positions of Jonathan Turley The key impeachment hearings are before an appeals court, not the House Judiciary panel Beyond the myth of Sunni-Shia wars in the Middle East MORE, reportedly instructed officials involved in back-channel deals with Kiev to inform White House lawyers.

“If true, this sort of activity seems wildly outside the scope of anything a counterterrorism senior director at NSC should be spending their time on,” said Josh Gelzer, who held Patel's position on the NSC previously, according to Politico. “What’s more, it politicizes a piece of the NSC staff that administrations of both parties have worked for decades to keep as apolitical as possible.”

The White House did not immediately answer a request for more information on Patel's role, while a spokesman for Nunes told The Hill in response to questions about Patel's work for the congressman: "Fake news never sleeps."

Trump's alleged effort to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals is at the center of House Democrats' impeachment effort.