As noted in the DOJ press release: “Former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith, 38, pleaded guilty today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to a false statement offense stemming from his altering of an email in connection with the submission of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”) application.”
Despite the falsification of court documents within a FISA document; and despite the likelihood of an intentional conspiracy to commit fraud upon the court in order to obtain a Title-1 surveillance warrant against the Trump campaign – via Carter Page; the DOJ entered into a plea agreement on a single count of lying to federal officers.
The agreement holds a maximum penalty of zero to six months in federal prison and a $250k fine. This is the same plea agreement the DOJ (DC U.S. Attorney) previously gave to the Senate Intelligence Committee Security Director James Wolfe, who leaked the SAME, earlier, top-secret classified FISA application to the media on March 17, 2017.
Judge James Boasberg noted early in the phone hearing that he is “currently the presiding judge for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,” but that “this case, however, is a criminal case, it is not a FISC case, and it is a case that was randomly assigned.” As anticipated Boasberg said the FISA court could be seen as a “victim” in the case, but also said he would preside over the case fairly without recusing himself. He stated if either the defense or prosecution wanted him to recuse, then he would. Neither party requested.
Judge Boasberg noted the maximum penalty for a single false statements charge was five years in prison but the sentencing guideline calls for zero to six months. Sentencing is scheduled for December 10, 2020, after the election, at 11am.
Clinesmith’s criminal infraction happened during the third renewal of the fraudulent FISA application submitted June 29, 2017, during his tenure working for Andrew Weissmann and the Mueller investigation. This is not coincidental….
[…] According to court documents and statements made in court, between July 2015 and September 2019, Clinesmith was employed with the FBI as an Assistant General Counsel in the National Security and Cyber Law Branch of the FBI’s Office of General Counsel in Washington, D.C. On July 31, 2016, the FBI opened a Foreign Agents Registration Act investigation, known as “Crossfire Hurricane,” into whether individuals associated with the Donald J. Trump for President Campaign were coordinating activities with the Russian government. By August 16, 2016, the FBI had opened cases under the Crossfire Hurricane umbrella on four individuals, including an individual identified in this case as “Individual #1.”
Clinesmith was assigned to provide legal support to FBI personnel working on Crossfire Hurricane, and he assisted FBI personnel with applications prepared by the FBI and the Justice Department’s National Security Division to conduct surveillance under the FISA. During the investigation, there were a total of four court-approved FISA applications targeting Individual #1. Each of the FISA applications alleged there was probable cause that Individual #1 was a knowing agent of a foreign power, specifically Russia.
On August 17, 2016, prior to the approval of the first FISA application #1, another U.S. government agency (“OGA”) provided certain members of the Crossfire Hurricane team a memorandum indicating that Individual #1 had been approved as an “operational contact” for the OGA from 2008 to 2013 and detailing information that Individual #1 had provided to the OGA concerning Individual #1’s prior contacts with certain Russian intelligence officers. The first three FISA applications did not include Individual #1’s history or status with the OGA.
Prior to the submission of the fourth FISA application, and after Individual #1 stated publicly that he/she had assisted the U.S. government in the past, an FBI Supervisory Special Agent (“SSA”) asked Clinesmith to inquire with the OGA as to whether Individual #1 had ever been a “source” for the OGA.
On June 15, 2017, Clinesmith sent an email to a liaison at the OGA (“OGA Liaison”) seeking clarification as to whether Individual #1 was an OGA source, and the OGA Liaison responded via email to Clinesmith. On June 19, 2017, Clinesmith altered the email he received from the OGA Liaison by adding the words “not a source,” and then forwarded the email to the FBI SSA.
Relying on the altered email, on June 29, 2017, the SSA signed and submitted the fourth FISA application to the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The application did not include Individual #1’s history or status with the OGA. (read more)
From the nature of the plea, and the defense arguments in court and public, it is obvious there is no arrangement for Clinesmith’s assistance or cooperation on other investigative matters. This does not bode well for the proper administration of justice….