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.