A wide-ranging investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general (IG) found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) deliberately doctored evidence it presented to the nation’s top spy court in order to gain authority to spy on a key Trump affiliate.
The 476-page report from Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that the FBI falsely claimed to the FISA Court not only that Carter Page was a Russian agent, but also falsely claimed that an unnamed intelligence agency had told the FBI that Page was “not a source” in their efforts to surveil and curtail Russian intelligence efforts.
Page, who had previously been an informant and witness for the United States in a federal espionage case against a Russian intelligence official, was targeted by the Obama FBI as a Russian spy helping Putin to steal the election from Hillary Clinton in 2016. According to the IG report, before the FBI and DOJ went to the FISA Court to apply for a warrant to spy on Page, an unnamed U.S. intelligence agency had told the FBI that Carter Page had previously assisted that agency’s efforts against Russian spies. Although exculpatory information about potential spy targets is required in spy warrant applications, Obama’s FBI and DOJ deliberately withheld that information from the spy court in order to paint Page in the worst possible light.
The FBI’s malfeasance in the matter did not stop there. Ahead of an application to renew the spy warrant in 2017, a top FBI lawyer doctored evidence from the unnamed agency which confirmed that contrary to FBI claims that he was a Russian spy, Page had in fact assisted the United States in its efforts to counter Russian operations. An e-mail from the agency that clearly stated Page was “a source” for them was doctored by Kevin Clinesmith, a top FBI national security lawyer, to give the opposite impression to the federal spy court.
“The [Office of General Counsel] Attorney altered and sent the e-mail to a [supervisory special agent], who thereafter relied on it to swear out the third FISA application,” the IG report notes. Upon learning that a top FBI lawyer doctored evidence against a former Trump campaign affiliate to justify spying on him, the IG referred the attorney to DOJ for criminal prosecution.
Text messages from that same lawyer after the 2016 election revealed that he was an anti-Trump activist. “Viva la Resistance!” he texted on November 22, 2016, while in the midst of investigating Trump. He would later be terminated from the Mueller probe for conduct which a previous IG report said “brought discredit” to the FBI. Of FBI documents he approved authorizing spying on Trump campaign, Clinesmith wrote “[M]y god damned name is all over the legal documents investigating his staff.”
“[W]ho knows if that breaks to him what he is going to do,” Clinesmith continued, apparently worried about the ramifications of his illicit behavior against the Trump campaign. It is unclear whether he doctored evidence against Trump to protect his own career and reputation or simply because of anti-Trump animus. At the time, Clinesmith worked under James Baker, the FBI General Counsel who was a close confidant of fired former director James Comey. Baker was one of a slew of former deputies who resigned or were fired as the Russia collusion hoax imploded.
In his report, the Horowitz referred Clinesmith to DOJ authorities for criminal prosecution. Spanning more than 476 pages, the report cited countless examples of corruption and deceit committed by employees throughout the FBI and Department of Justice related to the Trump-Russia probe, confirming that the investigation against Trump was unusually aggressive, politically tainted, and bore no fruit. Despite its claims about Page being a traitorous Russian spy, the former Trump foreign policy affiliate was never charged with any wrongdoing since there was no evidence that he was working for the Russians.
A subsequent investigation by Robert Mueller similarly found zero evidence of treasonous collusion with Russia by Trump or his campaign to steal the 2016 election.