A former FBI lawyer plans to plead guilty to falsifying a document used to obtain a surveillance warrant against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, according to an announcement made by his lawyer Friday.
What are the details?
Kevin Clinesmith, 38, who will be charged in federal court, intends to admit that he altered an email from the CIA that was used in a third and final application to eavesdrop on Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 2017, the Associated Press reported.
It is the first criminal charge to arise out of U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into the origins and intelligence gathering activities in the Trump-Russia probe. Durham was appointed last May by Attorney General William Barr to look into whether the FBI and Justice Department acted lawfully in their investigation.
A review of the Trump-Russia probe conducted by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz late last year found that a lawyer, later identified as Clinesmith, had altered an email to downplay Page’s association with the CIA. Page had been an “operational contact” for the CIA through at least 2013, but Clinesmith changed the email to say that Page was “never a source” for the agency.
Clinesmith’s lawyer, Justin Shur, argued that his client did not make the alteration in bad faith.
“Kevin deeply regrets having altered the email,” Shur told the AP. “It was never his intent to mislead the court or his colleagues, as he believed the information he relayed was accurate, but Kevin understands what he did was wrong and accepts responsibility.”
According to the New York Times, as a part of the inspector general’s inquiry, it was also revealed that Clinesmith had voiced political animus against President Trump in text messages.
Shortly after Trump won the presidential election in 2016, Clinesmith texted another official: “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.” And in another text, he said, “viva le resistance.”
Attorney General Barr teased Friday’s guilty plea in an appearance on Fox News with Sean Hannity on Thursday. During the interview he told Hannity that would be “a development” coming Friday.
The attorney general added that the development would not be “earth-shattering” but would be a sign that the investigation is moving along.