A top FBI lawyer who fabricated evidence in a federal spy warrant against Trump campaign affiliate Carter Page is expected to plead guilty to federal charges brought by U.S. Attorney John Durham. Kevin Clinesmith, who is expected to admit to deliberately fabricating evidence in a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant application, used to spy on a former campaign affiliate of President Donald Trump, was a top attorney in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Office of General Counsel (OGC) and a key agency attorney under fired former FBI Director James Comey.
Clinesmith is the first individual to be charged as part of U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into the efforts in 2016 and 2017 to spy on the Trump campaign and Trump administration. Both Durham and Attorney General William Barr stated at the conclusion of the OIG investigation of the Page FISA warrants that they had reason to believe the entire investigation of Trump, which allegedly began in late July of 2016, was not legally predicated. Durham was tapped by Barr in May of 2019 to investigate the Russian collusion hoax and determine whether any criminal charges against those who perpetrated it were warranted.
Clinesmith’s deliberate falsification of a federal spy warrant was first revealed last December following a lengthy investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG), headed by Michael Horowitz. Horowitz and his team wrote in a 434-page report that Clinesmith — identified in the report as “OGC Attorney” — altered an email from a separate U.S. federal agency, believed to be the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), to falsely state that Page had never worked with the CIA to investigate suspected Russia agents operating within the U.S. In fact, as Clinesmith was told by the operative, Page had worked with the CIA previously, as well as with the FBI.
According to the OIG report, Clinesmith “[o]mitted Page’s prior relationship with another U.S. government agency, despite being reminded by the other agency in June 2017, prior to the filing of the final [FISA warrant] renewal application, about Page’s past status with that other agency.”
“Instead of including this information in the final renewal application,” the OIG report stated, Clinesmith “altered an email from the other agency so that the email stated that Page was ‘not a source’ for the other agency, which the FBI affiant relied upon in signing the final renewal application.”
Following the completion of the OIG investigation into the abuse of the FISA process by Comey and his lieutenants, the federal court that reviews FISA warrants ruled that at least two of the four applications against Page were illegal, including the application that included Clinesmith’s fabricated claim that Page never previously assisted the CIA. Page’s previous work for the federal government was a key issue given that each of the FISA warrants used to spy on him falsely claimed that he was an illegal Russian agent working on behalf of the Kremlin. Page was never formally charged with any wrongdoing.
Clinesmith’s name first made national news after his anti-Trump text messages to another FBI attorney, Sally Moyer, surfaced following a separate OIG investigation of anti-Trump bias from top FBI attorneys and investigators.
“I’m just devastated,” Clinesmith texted to Moyer shortly after Trump won the presidential election in November of 2016. “Plus, my god damned name is all over the legal documents investigating his staff,” Clinesmith wrote.
“Is it making you rethink your commitment to the Trump administration?” Moyer later asked Clinesmith, ostensibly referring to Clinesmith’s plan to remain at the FBI after Trump’s inauguration.
“Hell no,” Clinesmith responded. “Viva le resistance.”
The full federal charging document detailing Clinesmith’s crimes can be found here.