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

A former staffer for Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesDemocratic lawmaker dismisses GOP lawsuit threat: 'Take your letter and shove it' House Democrats release second batch of Parnas materials Democratic lawmaker says Nunes threatened to sue him over criticism MORE (R-Calif.) who joined the White House in February was reportedly so deeply involved in feeding President TrumpDonald John TrumpNational Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo Dems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Democratic lawmaker dismisses GOP lawsuit threat: 'Take your letter and shove it' 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 BoltonDems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Republicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump beefs up impeachment defense with Dershowitz, Starr 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.