Kevin Clinesmith, a former Federal Bureau of Investigations lawyer, will plead guilty to a felony count for falsifying an email that was used to obtain a wiretap on Trump campaign aide Carter Page, according to court documents.
Clinesmith, 38, was an Assistant General Counsel in the National Security and Cyber Law Branch of the FBI’s General Counsel, and was assigned to provide legal support for the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign for alleged collusion, known as Crossfire Hurricane.
Part of his job was to help FBI agents working on the investigation prepare Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications to present to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to obtain wiretaps warrants.
He helped them obtain four warrants to wiretap Page on the basis that he might be a Russian agent.
According to court documents, the CIA in August 2016 had told “certain members” of the investigating team that Page — rather than being a Russian agent — was approved as an “operational contact” for the agency from 2008 to 2013, but that information was never added to any surveillance warrant applications.
Before the fourth application, an FBI Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) asked Clinesmith to ask the CIA whether Page had ever been a source for the CIA.
Clinesmith sent an email to the CIA on June 15, 2017, asking if Page had been a source. Later that same day, a CIA liaison responded with documents that included the previously sent information and indicated Page had been a source. Clinesmith responded, “Thanks so much for that information.”
However, when the SSA texted Clinesmith and asked for a follow up on the question about Page, Clinesmith responded that Page “was never a source.”
The SSA asked if Clinesmith had that in writing, and Clinesmith said he did and would forward an email from the CIA liaison.
Clinesmith then, from his office at the Hoover Building, forwarded the liaison’s email to the SSA, but with alterations to falsely indicate that the liaison had told him that Page was not a source for the CIA.
Clinesmith added the words “and not a source” into the liaison’s email to him before forwarding it to the SSA, a material change of a document used for a federal investigation.
Relying on Clinesmith’s altered email, the SSA signed and submitted the fourth wiretap application to the FISC on June 29, 2017, for the fourth warrant on Page.
The court document filed on Friday said:
On or about June 19, 2017, within the District of Columbia, the defendant, KEVIN CLINESMITH, did willfully and knowingly make and use a false writing and document, knowing the same to contain a materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statement and entry in a matter before the jurisdiction of the executive branch and judicial branch of the Government of the United States. Specifically, on or about June 19, 2017, the defendant altered the OGA Liaison’s June 15, 2017 email by adding that Individual #1 ‘was not a source’ and then forwarded the email to the SSA, when in truth, and in fact, and as the defendant well knew, the original June 15, 2017 email from the OGA Liaison did not contain the words ‘not a source.’
The indictment is the first in the investigation run by U.S. Attorney John Durham, who Attorney General Bill Barr appointed to examine the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign.
Barr said Thursday on Fox News’s Hannity that a development in the Durham probe was coming.
“It’s not an earth-shattering development, but it is an indication that things are moving along at the proper pace, as dictated by the facts in this investigation,” he said.
A New York Times report downplayed the indictment, saying that Clinesmith “incorrectly said” Page was never a source.
People “familiar with the case” told the Times that Clinesmith “made the change in good faith” because he did not think Page was actually a CIA source, and that he never tried to “hide” the email and had shared it with other FBI agents and the lawyer who drafted the original wiretap application.
DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz first identified Clinesmith’s actions in his report last year. Horowitz also discovered text messages from Clinesmith to another FBI lawyer after the election expressing animus towards Trump, such as, “I honestly feel like there is going to be a lot more gun issues, too, the crazies won finally. This is the tea party on steroids. And the GOP is going to be lost.”
He also texted, “Viva le resistance.”
After those messages were discovered, Special Counsel Robert Mueller dismissed Clinesmith from the special counsel probe.
As noted by the Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross, Clinesmith was not a bit player in Crossfire Hurricane.
Clinesmith also took part in the decision to send an FBI special agent into a counterintelligence briefing with then-candidate Trump and adviser Michael Flynn in August 2016. The agent, Joe Pientka, was tasked with observing Flynn and collecting evidence to use in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.
He also texted, “I am so stressed about what I could have done differently,” and fretted that “my god damned name is all over the legal documents investigating his staff,” in reference to Trump. He also was one of the lawyers who took part in interviews of another campaign aide, George Papadopoulos in February 2017.
Clinesmith worked at the FBI from July 12, 2015, to September 21, 2019, at the FBI’s headquarters in D.C.