FBI Lawyer Criminally Charged For Lying To The FISA Court
from the thousands-of-lies;-one-(1)-guilty-plea dept
Earlier this year, the DOJ Inspector General released a report that — surprise, surprise — showed the FBI abusing its FISA privileges. The FBI had placed former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page under surveillance, suspecting (but only momentarily) that he was acting as an agent of a foreign power. (Guess which one.)
The report said the first wiretap request might have been valid, but subsequent requests for extensions weren’t. The Inspector General said the agency cherry-picked info to keep the wiretap alive, discarding any evidence it had come across that would have ended the surveillance.
Even more damning, it found that FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith altered an email from another federal agency to hide Carter Page’s involvement with that agency from the FISA court. The FISA court demanded the DOJ hand over information on any other cases before it that Clinesmith might have had a hand in. But that wasn’t the end of it. Clinesmith was also referred to the DOJ for criminal charges.
The criminal charge has arrived. The criminal complaint [PDF] was filed in the DC federal district court. It details the email Clinesmith altered and submitted with the Carter Page surveillance extension request to the FISA court in 2017.
The original email — sent to Clinesmith by an unnamed government agency — said that Page was an “operational source” for this agency. The “Other Government Agency” (OGA) stated this in the email to Clinesmith:
[M]y recollection is that [Individual #1] was or is… [digraph] (two-letter designation for operational contacts) but the [documents] will explain the details. If you need a formal definition for the FISA, please let me know…
Here’s how the email was submitted by Clinesmith to the FISA court (alteration in bold):
My recollection is that [Individual #1] was or is [digraph] and not a “source” but the [documents] will explain the details.
Clinesmith made some other false statements about Page’s source status to the Supervisory Special Agent in charge of the case as well, but those aren’t criminal offenses… just regular ol’ intradepartmental lying.
During a series of instant messages between the defendant and the SSA, the defendant indicated that Individual #1 was “subsource” and “was never a source.” The defendant further stated “[the OGA] confirmed explicitly he was never a source.” The SSA subsequently asked “Do we have that in writing?”
We do. Falsified writing, but writing nonetheless. See above.
So, what’s up next for the FBI
liar lawyer? Looks like a felony conviction:
The former FBI attorney, Kevin Clinesmith, will plead to a single felony count of making a false statement, though his lawyer said it was not his intent to mislead the court that approved the original warrant in 2016 and three renewals in 2017.
“Kevin deeply regrets having altered the email. It was never his intent to mislead the court or his colleagues as he believed the information he relayed was accurate,” Clinesmith’s lawyer Justin Shur said in a statement. “But Kevin understands what he did was wrong and accepts responsibility.”
I would hope Clinesmith understood what he did wrong while he was doing it — not just after being hit with a criminal complaint.
Some will argue Clinesmith’s lying was due to his hatred of Trump. After all, special counsel Robert Mueller booted him (along with agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page) after uncovering anti-Trump text messages sent by the lawyer, including one calling Vice President Mike Pence “stupid” and referring to the current GOP as “tea party on steroids.”
But to assume that is to forget the FBI’s long history of surveillance/wiretap abuses, its habitual lying to courts, and a penchant for voyeurism that goes far beyond what’s necessary to close an investigation. Deep state conspiracies may be fun to construct, but the reality is the FBI has far more power than it has ever been able to wield responsibly.
Filed Under: carter page, fbi, fisa, fisa court, fisc, kevin clinesmith, lies, surveillance
Comments on “FBI Lawyer Criminally Charged For Lying To The FISA Court”
If he did understand that he was doing wrong at the time, that makes it even more disturbing to me. It indicates that there is a sense of impunity within the FBI, that they will never get caught, and never face punishment, so they are free to railroad a target. Never trust an FBI agent.
Yes, as people have been saying for years. Another "conspiracy theory" revealed as true all along.
Re: Re: Re:
Good sir or madam, I hesitate to equate the prosecution (as of the time of writing not yet a conviction) of a single agency lawyer with the exposure of an entrenched, pervasive system of deeply interwoven and Byzantine patterns of criminal scheming – of whatever origins or motives – that would allow us to legitimately say anything alleged about a ‘deep state’, ‘extrajudicial administrative structures’ or ‘law enforcement impunity’ has been ‘true all along’ or even earlier deriding of such allegations as fabulist ‘conspiracy theory’ was not warranted.
Note here that I don’t necessarily make the claim here that no such underlying and long-lived conspiracy or group of conspirators exist – for the record, I don’t believe either of those things – but even if they do exist this prosecution does not in and of itself confirm or reveal them. It’d be like a SWAT team raiding a suburban home with a warrant for investigating the owners as major drug traffickers of all manner of controlled substances and seizing any contraband or illicit funds inside, then finding nothing except an eighth of ‘dro in the teenage son’s bedroom he was going to sell to his buddy on the basketball team, and then claiming that somehow the original intelligence was therefore good and the original allegations congruent with reality (an analogy close to many IRL situations, e.g. the Charles DiGristino case out of Titusville, FL in 1989).
Perspective should be maintained at all removes and certainty should come in stages, yes?
It indicates that there is a sense of impunity within the FBI, that they will never get caught, and never face punishment, so they are free to railroad a target.
I’m sure the targeting of this one agent will certainly result in a trickle-down effect throughout law enforcement.
"If he did understand that he was doing wrong at the time, that makes it even more disturbing to me."
It’s hard to see how he couldn’t. The FBI has far higher standards on the niceties of law than the average street cop. Admittedly so they know just how to bend them properly…
"suspecting (but only momentarily) that he was acting as an agent of a foreign power. (Guess which one.) "
It seems that the country that gets busted spying and/or killing our naval seamen the most is ISRAEL.
(Sorry to burst Cushing’s anti-Russia-hysteria bubble. Not really.)
So, "seedeevee" is short for "non sequitur man"?
Re: Re: ISRAEL
It the spelled-out version of his job title C.D.V. – Cyber Disinfirmation Vendor
"It seems that the country that gets busted spying and/or killing our naval seamen the most is ISRAEL."
The fact that Israeli intelligence and Saudi terrorists appear to have diplomatic immunity as far as US law enforcement is concerned is interesting but completely irrelevant to this topic.
Also, Tim stating "The FBI had placed former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page under surveillance, suspecting (but only momentarily) that he was acting as an agent of a foreign power. (Guess which one.) " doesn’t exactly mean that Tim lives in an anti-russia bubble. Only that the FBI had Page under surveillance for what they briefly presumed was a russian connection. Go blame the FBI for that.
Oh, wait. That’d mean you couldn’t build a strawman to toss at Tim, wouldn’t it, Baghdad Bob, so being remotely factual is a no-go from your side. As usual.
With the falsification of records to submit to FISA, I would hope that this lawyer will be disbarred and prevented from ever practicing again. Of course his hate is popular currently and many people on that side of the political divide end up getting a free pass(Govenor of Virginia in blackface).
Re: Disbarred next
Nah. All he has to do is argue that he didn’t know what he was doing is wrong, and that unless there’s no existing precedent where his actions have clearly been identified as illegal, his case should be dismissed.
If it works for regular L&E folks, it should apply here as well.
Maybe once conservatives see this guy skate for a ridiculous reason, they’ll actually start to give a shit about qualified immunity and law enforcement abuse.
Re: Disbarred next
I don’t think you have any idea what a "free pass" is.
Wait, how is that part not criminal? I don’t see any exception in 18 U.S. Code § 1001 for "intradepartmental". It says:
"Wait, how is that part not criminal? I don’t see any exception in 18 U.S. Code § 1001 for "intradepartmental"."
…do we really need to go into the odds that a member of an alphabet soup agency will end up on the wrong side of a DA without (or sometimes even if) corpses are involved? The Church commission isn’t far enough back in time for anyone to confidently state the FBI has managed to exorcise Hoover’s ghost.
Not about the lie
It wasn’t the lie that got him punished. If FBI lies were all punished, there would be no one left to turn out the lights.
This is a political persecution, pure and simple.
Re: Not about the lie
…and the Russia investigation was not political. Ha!
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