A former lawyer for the FBI will plead guilty to falsifying information on a document presented to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court, Yahoo News reported. The indictment was the first resulting from U.S. Attorney John Durham’s look into the origins of the 2016 investigation of potential links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Kevin Clinesmith is accused of altering a FISA application renewal to spy on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page according to Fox News. The falsification was noted by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz in his report on the origins of the FISA applications and subsequent actions by the major intelligence agencies.
According to the Justice Department’s document charging Clinesmith, it asserts that he “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.”
The falsehood in question was Clinesmith’s decision to excise a CIA notation that Page had been a source for that agency in the past.
Clinesmith left the FBI last year. His attorney, Justin Shur said, “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. But Kevin understands what he did was wrong and accepts responsibility.”
Attorney General Bill Barr had previewed the announcement of Clinesmith’s guilty plea on Thursday, when he revealed, “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. There are two different things going on. I said the American people need to know what actually happened, we need to get the story of what happened in 2016 and ’17 out. That will be done.”
Barr promised that “if people crossed the line, if people involved in that activity violated criminal law, they will be charged.” An FBI spokesperson defended current FBI Director Christopher Wray’s leadership, saying “under Director Wray’s leadership, the FBI has been, and will continue to be, fully cooperative with Mr. Durham’s review. This includes providing documents and assigning personnel to assist his team.” He also noted, “While the FBI does not comment on ongoing legal matters, it is important to note the employee in this case no longer works at the FBI resigning before an internal disciplinary process was completed.”
President Trump reacted to the news saying of Durham and his investigation, “ hope he’s doing a great job, and I hope they’re not going to be politically correct. Obama knew everything. Vice President Biden, as dumb as he may be, knew everything, and everybody else knew. And [former FBI Director James] Comey, and [former CIA Director John] Brennan, and [former Director of National Intelligence James] Clapper, they were all terrible, they lied to Congress.”
The President continued, “That’s just the beginning, I would imagine, because what happened should never happen again. Terrible thing. Fact is they spied on my campaign and they got caught.”
Durham’s investigation is ongoing, despite having suffered delays to the coronavirus pandemic.