Last week came the announcement that former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith would be pleading guilty to a federal crime in the government's investigation of Trump-Russia collusion.
What exactly did Clinesmith allegedly do wrong?
In simple terms, he allegedly doctored an email used to get a wiretap to spy on a Trump associate.
The wiretapping of former Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page could have allowed the FBI to access past communications of many Trump officials-- and even Trump himself.
Kevin Clinesmith was a high level FBI attorney involved in both the ill-fated Trump-Russia collusion probe and the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's mishandling of classified emails on a private server while secretary of state.
Clinesmith first appeared on the public radar last December after Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz revealed Clinesmith's alleged doctoring of an email presented to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court.
The email involved whether Page had worked with U.S. intelligence in the past. Such a relationship is a required disclosure on the FBI's wiretap applications because it could cut into the credibility of the FBI's claim that the targeted suspect is really a foreign spy or terrorist. The FBI repeatedly claimed Page was acting as a Russian spy on behalf of the Trump campaign, and wiretapped him for over a year, while returning no evidence of their claims.
In August of 2016, the CIA had already notified the FBI it had a relationship with Page. When news of the FBI's investigation into Page was leaked to the press, Page also told the FBI in a letter that he had cooperated with and assisted the FBI and CIA in the past. Page also said so publicly.
For unexplained reasons, an agent FBI working to renew the wiretap on Page asked the question again of the CIA in June 2017. A CIA official again confirmed Page had a relationship with the agency, reportedly in an email to Clinesmith.
However, Clinesmith told the FBI agent the opposite, according to the Inspector General, that the CIA "confirmed explicitly" that Page was never a source. Clinesmith also allegedly doctored the email to read that Page has not been a CIA source.
Adding to the mystery surrounding the incident, Clinesmith reportedly separately provided the correct, unaltered email to a fellow Justice Department attorney, who has not been named.
This implies that at least one other FBI official knew the truth and either was part of a plot to cover up the crime committed in the Page case or simply remained publicly silent.
It also raises the question as to whether additional FBI officials knew or instructed the doctoring and coverup.
Not only is it unethical for a government official to falsify a document, attorneys are also covered by additional ethical standards that make such an alleged crime more egregious.
The Inspector General identified more than a dozen serious abuses and lapses made by government officials in their investigation of the Trump campaign. The Justice Department is conducting an investigation into those findings. Clinesmith's expected guilty plea to one federal charge is the first criminal action taken in the case.
The Inspector General also found that Clinesmith is one of numerous FBI officials involved in the probe of Trump who expressed anti-Trump sentiment in text messages. One of Clinesmith's text messages read: “Viva le resistance.”
Thank you, Sharyl Attkisson for doing what the corrupt, lazy MSM cant do.
Richard Shelton says
Thanks, Sharyl. Love all your hard work and authentic journalism. I have doubted all along that anyone would ever stand trial for the myriad of crimes committed in the quest to "resist" Trump. This is the first glimmer of hope that maybe our justice system has not been completely politicized and compromised. In this sickening age of every is politics and politics is everything your are the antidote.
It is not allegedly, he admitted he did the crime. Can't wait to see what other cards fall.
Accept Clonesmith's guilty plea, lock him up and fo the same to the rest of the creeps who undermined our Constitution. What these bums did was turn our democracy on its head. It was they who interfered in the 2016 election and afterwards. Try them, find them guilty, lock 'em up! Lock 'em ALL up, including Obama!
Once again, great work, Sharyl.
Stan W. says
Lock him up--with Hillary. Or, would that be considered "cruel and unusual" punishment?
I’ve been following this scandal very closely and have read many accounts of Clinesmith’s duplicitous acts over the last few days. I learned something new reading your article. (That he sent an unaltered copy of the email to another attorney in the Justice Dept.). A small, but potentially important detail I read no where else.
I very much appreciate your careful reporting. I hope that you have several young journalists under your wing, teaching them the ropes and preparing them to do their jobs with honestly and professionalism like you!
Looking forward to SLANTED in November!
I had assumed that Clinesmith was an isolated low level perp. It sounds like there are several more at his level; if so, the number of defendants may be much larger than the few I envisoned (hoped). It would also help explain the agonizingly slow pace of this investigation.
Let me add my appreciation for the excellent work Sharyl is doing. It is particularly commendable, given her knowledge that in today's skewed journalistic world, she will not receive the professional accolades she deserves.
David S. McQueen says
"Doctoring an email" is not an actual crime. There has to be some further malfeasance involved. Clinesmith used the email to further commit a crime of perjury and committed fraud on the court.
JOHN CHARLES LEPANT says
And the Steele Dossier was manufactured evidence paid for by the DNC through their law firm, Perkins Coie. The Democrats used manufactured evidence twice, the Dossier, and the manipulated email. 😉