5 Takeaways From The Latest Filings In The Carter Page Spygate Lawsuit

5 Takeaways From The Latest Filings In The Carter Page Spygate Lawsuit

Over last weekend, attorneys for Carter Page filed responses to motions to dismiss filed by the FBI and eight agents involved in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation that led to the government illegally obtaining four surveillance warrants to spy on Page.

In November 2020, Page, who had briefly served as a volunteer advisor to the Trump campaign, sued the defendants in a D.C. federal court alleging violations of the Fourth Amendment, the Patriot Act, and the Privacy Act. In response, the government and the individual defendants argued Page’s claims were time-barred or that Page had no legal grounds on which to sue. Page’s responses counter those arguments while providing five key take-aways.

1. The Swamp Is So Swampy

With Spygate developments few and far between, it is easy to forget the breadth and depth of the scandal. The briefs docketed on Saturday in Page’s lawsuit against the FBI and the agents involved in obtaining the four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) surveillance warrants serve as an important refresher of what our government did to an innocent man in the hopes of “getting Trump.” As Page’s brief against the individual defendants noted in its opening, this case is extraordinary because they “were not mere field agents bending the rules to pursue criminals, but rather the highest level FBI executives.”

Even the case name, Page v. Comey, confirms the truth of that assertion, with former FBI Director James Comey named as one of the eight defendants. Page’s brief details Comey’s alleged involvement in the Department of Justice obtaining four FISA surveillance orders against the Naval Academy graduate, stressing that Comey was not merely a “supervisory” who signed the FISA applications, but was personally involved.

Establishing Comey and the other agents’ personal involvement proved a key feature of the briefs, because, to avoid dismissal of the complaint, Page needed to show the allegations of the complaint could reasonably be supported by a finding that the individual defendants did more than merely supervise employees who violated Page’s Fourth Amendment rights and rights under FISA.

The 70-page omnibus brief addressing the claims against the individual defendants detailed the personal involvement of each. For instance, for the former FBI director, the brief stressed that “on or about August 17, 2016, Comey received information from the CIA establishing that Dr. Page was an ‘operation contact’ for the CIA during the period of 2008-2013.”

Comey also knew from a September 7, 2016, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) communique that Hillary Clinton had approved “a plan concerning U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering U.S. elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private mail server,” according to the court filing. Comey nonetheless approved the use of the fabricated Christopher Steele dossier to obtain the FISA surveillance orders, and eventually signed three of the four FISA surveillance applications.

Next named in Page’s lawsuit was Andrew McCabe, a former deputy director of the FBI. McCabe was also personally involved in obtaining the illegal FISA surveillance order, according to Page’s most recent court filing.

Among other things, McCabe signed the affidavit the FBI submitted in support of the final FISA application. McCabe’s involvement went further, Page’s attorneys argued, pointing out that he hosted an August 15, 2016 meeting with co-defendants Peter Strzok and Lisa Page discussing “an insurance policy” to prevent a Donald Trump election, and he had approved the FISA applications even though he knew they omitted Carter Page’s past assistance to the CIA.

The brief next discussed Kevin Clinesmith’s involvement in the FISA abuse. Clinesmith, who served as an assistant general counsel in the FBI’s Office of General Counsel, falsely told the FBI that Page was never a source. Then, when asked for written confirmation of that representation, Clinesmith altered the text of the email he had received from the CIA liaison, making the email read that Page was “not a ‘source.’”

Clinesmith then forwarded the altered email to the FBI. Clinesmith later pleaded guilty to making a false statement related to this conduct.

Strzok and Lisa Page’s involvement in the FISA surveillance scheme received attention next. Strzok, who served at the time as the FBI deputy assistant director for counterintelligence, also knew of the CIA’s warning that Clinton had approved a plan to claim Trump had colluded with Russia to “distract the public” from her misuse of a private server. Strzok also stated an intention to “stop” Trump from becoming president and discussed “an insurance policy” to prevent a Trump election.

Lisa Page’s personal involvement mirrored that of Strzok’s, but in addition she attended a briefing with McCabe, at which “Bruce Ohr advised them that Steele’s work product was not for the U.S. Government but, rather, was political opposition research for a private political party.”

The briefs repeated this process for the remaining individual defendants: Joe Pientka, who served as a supervisory agent on the Crossfire Hurricane team; Stephen Somma, an FBI agent who represented himself as “Steve Holt” to Page; and Brian Auten, an FBI supervisory intelligence analyst.

Pientka, Carter Page stressed, had falsely certified that the information in the first FISA warrant was verified for accuracy and later failed to correct the application, even after learning in November 2016 from Ohr that Steele was not a reliable source and had been paid to conduct the opposition research against Trump.

The response filed on Saturday also detailed Somma’s involvement, noting that he had pushed initially for the FISA warrant. Further, according to Page, “Defendant Somma personally provided incomplete, inaccurate, and conflicting information to the DOJ Office Attorney who asked whether Dr. Page had been a source for the CIA.”

In fact, according to Page, Somma actually knew he had served as an “operational contact” for the CIA from 2008-2013, but failed to accurately describe that relationship to others. Somma also did not inform the FISA court that Igor Danchenko, Steele’s primary sub-source for his fabricated dossier, contradicted Steele’s supposed intel.

The final defendant, Auten, also held personal responsibility for violating Page’s Fourth Amendment rights and violations of the Patriot Act, according to Page’s lawyer. Auten “played an instrumental role along with the agents preparing the FISA applications—including reviewing the probable cause section of the applications.”

In preparing the applications, Auten “falsely enhanced the credibility of information obtained from Steele,” according to Page, writing “that information from Steele had been ‘corroborated and used in criminal proceedings,’ although none of Steele’s past reporting as an informant had been corroborated and had never been used in any criminal proceedings.”

Auten also “intentionally failed to disclose the negative feedback that he had received from British Intelligence Service colleagues regarding Steele,” according to the court filing, including a caution from “Steele’s former colleagues that Steele exercised ‘poor judgment’ and pursued as sources ‘people with political risk but no intel value.’”

2. So Much Still Unknown

Even with the details noted above and additional ones included in the 100-plus pages of combined briefs filed by Page’s legal team this weekend, so much remains unknown because the government holds sole possession of the information. That lack of knowledge, Page argued in his briefs, makes dismissal of his lawsuit at this stage premature.

“It is also abundantly clear that there is a trove of currently non-public documents and facts that relate to Dr. Page’s claims, which are presently in the exclusive possession of the Individual Defendants and the United States and its agencies, but which will undoubtedly further support and vindicate Dr. Page’s claims,” Page’s attorney wrote.

Then, as a perfect illustration of the point, Page’s legal team pointed to the fact that after they initially filed suit in November 2020, “additional facts concerning Defendant Clinesmith’s role with respect to the alteration of the email were disclosed when the Department of Justice filed its sentencing memorandum in Defendant Clinesmith’s criminal prosecution, including internal FBI emails not referenced in the Horowitz Report.”

Also unknown at this time is which defendants, if any, leaked information to the press. The brief suggests Lisa Page and Strzok hold responsibility for the leaks, noting that “on Monday, April 10, 2017, Defendant Strzok sent [Lisa Page] another text message stating, ‘I had literally just gone to find this phone to tell you I want to talk to you about media leak strategy with DOJ before you go.’”

“Two days later,” the brief continued, Strzok “sent Defendant Lisa Page a text message to alert her that two media articles were coming out about her ‘namesake’ [Dr. Page] and that one was worse than the other.” Then, later the same week, “the Washington Post and the New York Times published articles about Dr. Page and the government’s investigation of him, including that FISA warrants were used,” with Strzok that weekend texting Lisa Page: “article is out!” and “Well done, Page.”

The briefs filed this weekend also stressed that after the FISA warrant was issued, “a stream of information about Dr. Page . . . and his supposed status as a Russian agent working to undermine the nation, began to flood the airwaves and the newsstands.” “The source of that information can only have been the Crossfire Hurricane team,” the brief argued.

In addition to Strzok and Lisa Page, in the separate brief Carter Page’s legal team filed this weekend in response to the government’s motion to dismiss, lawyers claimed that defendants Comey and McCabe also “leaked information and records concerning Dr. Page to media outlets, including but not limited to the existence of the FISA warrants, the contents of the warrant applications, and the results of the warrants, that were protected from disclosure under FISA and the Privacy Act.”

Without discovery, however, Page lacks the ability to establish the party or parties responsible for the leaks with certainty, which supports his argument that dismissing his claims at this point is premature.

3. It’s David and Goliath All Over Again

Reading Page’s briefs also reminds of the lopsided battle he faced in trying to clear his name when he went up against the Crossfire Hurricane team. He literally wrote Comey. He reminded the FBI that he had worked with the CIA. He voluntarily submitted to multiple interviews with FBI agents. His lawyer spoke with Clinesmith.

Yet they persisted. It was one individual against the mammoth monstrosity that calls itself the intelligence community.

Now Page is taking on the same monster that is proving itself as regenerative as the mythical hydra. Not only does Page face the federal government, represented by Department of Justice attorneys, but each defendant has his or her own group of powerhouse D.C. lawyers combatting Page’s push for justice, leaving Page’s small legal team fighting against nine separate teams of defense attorneys.

One wonders who is paying for all those private law firms, and whether it is taxpayers?

4. Zingers Galore

While Page’s legal team may be outgunned, their briefing proves top-notch, both in its legal advocacy and its ability to point out the absurdity of many of the defendants’ arguments with a flair that cuts through legal niceties.

Early on, Page’s attorneys honed in on the key strategy the defendants seem to have settled on—point the finger at someone else. Each defendant sought to “outdo each other in minimizing their respective roles in the fiasco,” the brief noted, “each claiming their culpability in deceiving the FISC, unlawfully disclosing information, and violating Dr. Page’s rights was too minor to impose civil liability on them.” “If the individual defendants are to be believed,” the brief quipped, “these unlawful and false warrants wrote themselves.”

As quoted from Ian Fleming in “Goldfinger,” “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action,” crystalized another point by Page’s legal team: that the defendants’ conduct cannot be put down to mistakes or even sloppiness but creates the reasonable inference that they intentionally caused the violation of Page’s rights.

Then, in summing up their argument on behalf of Page, the brief closed by reminding the judge that “the FBI unlawfully used the power of the federal government, in the form of secret, anti-terrorism surveillance tools, to violate the rights of an innocent American.” “It is long past time for the United States to step up to the plate and do right by Dr. Page,” the brief closed.

5. Tough Legal Question

Whether Carter Page will succeed in fending off dismissal of his case against the DOJ, FBI, and litany of Crossfire Hurricane agents will not be known for some time. The defendants will all have a chance to reply to Page’s briefing, meaning another nine briefs to counter Page’s two court filings.

The district court will then face many tough legal questions, beginning with whether Page waited too long to sue. Next, the court will need to determine whether Page adequately alleged sufficient facts under his various theories of liability and specifically whether each individual defendant holds responsibility for the illegal FISA warrant under an “aiding and abetting” theory.

Carter Page also presents a unique claim against the federal government under The Privacy Act, arguing that his rights were violated by the inspector general when the IG refused to allow Page to review and respond to the report discussing the four FISA warrants obtained against Page.

Check back later this week for a legal analysis of these and the other issues presented in Page v. Comey. In the meantime, consider what it means to our country that this case even exists.

Margot Cleveland is a senior contributor to The Federalist. She is also a contributor to National Review Online, the Washington Examiner, Aleteia, and Townhall.com, and has been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Cleveland is a lawyer and a graduate of the Notre Dame Law School, where she earned the Hoynes Prize—the law school’s highest honor. She later served for nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk for a federal appellate judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Cleveland is a former full-time university faculty member and now teaches as an adjunct from time to time. As a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of a young son with cystic fibrosis, Cleveland frequently writes on cultural issues related to parenting and special-needs children. Cleveland is on Twitter at @ProfMJCleveland. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.


DC Bar Restores Convicted FBI Russiagate Forger While He’s Still Serving Probation

DC Bar Restores Convicted FBI Russiagate Forger While He’s Still Serving Probation

A former senior FBI lawyer who falsified a surveillance document in the Trump-Russia investigation has been restored as a member in “good standing” by the District of Columbia Bar Association even though he has yet to finish serving out his probation as a convicted felon, according to disciplinary records obtained by RealClearInvestigations.

The move is the latest in a series of exceptions the bar has made for Kevin Clinesmith, who pleaded guilty in August 2020 to doctoring an email used to justify a surveillance warrant targeting former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Clinesmith was sentenced to 12 months probation last January. But the D.C. Bar did not seek his disbarment, as is customary after lawyers are convicted of serious crimes involving the administration of justice. In this case, it did not even initiate disciplinary proceedings against him until February of this year — five months after he pleaded guilty and four days after RealClearInvestigations first reported he had not been disciplined.

After the negative publicity, the bar temporarily suspended Clinesmith pending a review and hearing. Then in September, the court that oversees the bar and imposes sanctions agreed with its recommendation to let Clinesmith off suspension with time served; the bar, in turn, restored his status to “active member” in “good standing.”

Before quietly making that decision, however, records indicate the bar did not check with his probation officer to see if he had violated the terms of his sentence or if he had completed the community service requirement of volunteering 400 hours.

To fulfill the terms of his probation, Clinesmith volunteered at Street Sense Media in Washington but stopped working at the nonprofit group last summer, which has not been previously reported. “I can confirm he was a volunteer here,” Street Sense editorial director Eric Falquero told RCI, without elaborating about how many hours he worked. Clinesmith had helped edit and research articles for the weekly newspaper, which coaches the homeless on how to “sleep on the streets” and calls for a “universal living wage” and prison reform.

Special Counsel Could Still Be Investigating Clinesmith

From the records, it also appears bar officials did not consult with the FBI’s Inspection Division, which has been debriefing Clinesmith to determine if he was involved in any other surveillance abuses tied to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants, in addition to the one used against Page. Clinesmith’s cooperation was one of the conditions of the plea deal he struck with Special Counsel John Durham. If he fails to fully cooperate, including turning over any relevant materials or records in his possession, he could be subject to perjury or obstruction charges.

Clinesmith — who was assigned to some of the FBI’s most sensitive and high-profile investigations — may still be in Durham’s sights regarding other areas of his wide-ranging probe.

The scope of his mandate as special counsel is broader than commonly understood: In addition to examining the legal justification for the FBI’s “Russiagate” probe, it also includes examining the bureau’s handling of the inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s use of an unsecured email server, which she set up in her basement to send and receive classified information, and her destruction of more than 30,000 subpoenaed emails she generated while running the State Department. As assistant FBI general counsel in the bureau’s national security branch, Clinesmith played an instrumental role in that investigation, which was widely criticized by FBI and Justice Department veterans, along with ethics watchdogs, as fraught with suspicious irregularities.

Clinesmith also worked on former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the 2016 Trump campaign as the key attorney linking his office to the FBI. He was the only headquarters lawyer assigned to Mueller. Durham’s investigators are said to be looking into the Mueller team’s actions as well.

The D.C. Bar’s treatment of Clinesmith, a registered Democrat who sent anti-Trump rants to FBI colleagues after the Republican was elected, has raised questions from the start. Normally the bar automatically suspends the license of members who plead guilty to a felony. But in Clinesmith’s case, it delayed suspending him on even an interim basis for several months and only acted after RCI revealed the break Clinesmith was given, records confirm.

Repeated Irregularities in Clinesmith’s Case

It then allowed him to negotiate his fate, which is rarely done in any misconduct investigation, let alone one involving a serious crime, according to a review of past cases. It also overlooked violations of its own rules: Clinesmith apparently broke the bar’s rule requiring reporting his guilty plea “promptly” to the court — within 10 days of entering it — and failed to do so for five months, reveal transcripts of a July disciplinary hearing obtained by RCI.

“I did not see evidence that you informed the court,” Rebecca Smith, the chairwoman of the D.C. Bar panel conducting the hearing, admonished Clinesmith.

“[T]hat was frankly just an error,” Clinesmith’s lawyer stepped in to explain.

Smith also scolded the bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel for the “delay” in reporting the offense, since it negotiated the deal with Clinesmith, pointing out: “Disciplinary counsel did not report the plea to the court and initiate a disciplinary proceeding.” Bill Ross, the assistant disciplinary counsel who represented the office at the hearing, argued Clinesmith shouldn’t be held responsible and blamed the oversight on the COVID pandemic.

The Democrat-controlled panel, known as the Board on Professional Responsibility, nonetheless gave Clinesmith a pass, rubberstamping the light sentence he negotiated with the bar’s chief prosecutor, Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton “Phil” Fox, while admitting it was “unusual.” Federal Election Commission records show Fox, a former Watergate prosecutor, is a major donor to Democrats, including former President Obama. All three members of the board also are Democratic donors, FEC data reveal.

Contrasting Action Taken by Michigan Bar

While the D.C. Bar delayed taking any action against Clinesmith, the Michigan Bar, where he is also licensed, automatically suspended him the day he pleaded guilty. And on Sept. 30, records show, the Michigan Bar’s attorney discipline board suspended Clinesmith for two years, from the date of his guilty plea through Aug. 19, 2022, and fined him $1,037.

“[T]he panel found that respondent engaged in conduct that was prejudicial to the proper administration of justice [and] exposed the legal profession or the courts to obloquy, contempt, censure or reproach,” the board ruled against Clinesmith, adding that his misconduct “was contrary to justice, ethics, honesty or good morals; violated the standards or rules of professional conduct adopted by the Supreme Court; and violated a criminal law of the United States.”

Normally, bars arrange what’s called “reciprocal discipline” for unethical attorneys licensed in their jurisdictions. But this was not done in the case of Clinesmith. The D.C. Bar decided to go much easier on the former FBI attorney, further raising suspicions the anti-Trump felon was given favorable treatment.

In making the bar’s case not to strip Clinesmith of his license or effectively punish him going forward, Fox disregarded key findings by Durham about Clinesmith’s intent to deceive the FISA court as a government attorney who held a position of trust.

Clinesmith Pled Guilty to Falsifying Records

Clinesmith confessed to creating a false document by changing the wording in a June 2017 CIA email to state Page was “not a source” for the CIA when in fact the agency had told Clinesmith and the FBI on multiple occasions Page had been providing information about Russia to it for years — a revelation that, if disclosed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, would have undercut the FBI’s case for electronically monitoring Page as a supposed Russian agent and something that Durham noted Clinesmith understood all too well.

Bar records show Fox simply took Clinesmith’s word that he believed the change in wording was accurate and that in making it, he mistakenly took a “shortcut” to save time and had no intent to deceive the court or the case agents preparing the application for the warrant.

Durham demonstrated that Clinesmith certainly did intend to mislead the FISA court. “By his own words, it appears that the defendant falsified the email in order to conceal [Page’s] former status as a source and to avoid making an embarrassing disclosure to the FISC,” the special prosecutor asserted in his 20-page memo to the sentencing judge, in which he urged a prison term of up to six months for Clinesmith. “Such a disclosure would have drawn a strong and hostile response from the FISC for not disclosing it sooner [in earlier warrant applications].”

As proof of Clinesmith’s intent to deceive, Durham cited an internal message Clinesmith sent the FBI agent preparing the application, who relied on Clinesmith to tell him what the CIA said about Page. “At least we don’t have to have a terrible footnote” explaining that Page was a source for the CIA in the application, Clinesmith wrote.

The FBI lawyer also removed the initial email he sent to the CIA inquiring about Page’s status as a source before forwarding the CIA email to another FBI agent, blinding him to the context of the exchange about Page.

Durham also noted that Clinesmith repeatedly changed his story after the Justice Department’s watchdog first confronted him with the altered email during an internal 2019 investigation. What’s more, he falsely claimed his CIA contact told him in phone calls that Page was not a source, conversations the contact swore never happened.

Clinesmith Was Politically Biased at the FBI

Fox also maintained that Clinesmith had no personal motive in forging the document. But Durham cited virulently anti-Trump political messages Clinesmith sent to other FBI employees after Trump won in 2016 – including a battle cry to “fight” Trump and his policies – and argued that his clear political bias may have led to his criminal misconduct.

“It is plausible that his strong political views and/or personal dislike of [Trump] made him more willing to engage in the fraudulent and unethical conduct to which he has pled guilty,” Durham told U.S. District Judge Jeb Boasberg.

Boasberg, a Democrat appointed by President Obama, spared Clinesmith jail time and let him serve out his probation from home. Fox and the D.C. Bar sided with Boasberg, who accepted Clinesmith’s claim he did not intentionally deceive the FISA court, which Boasberg happens to preside over, and even offered an excuse for his criminal conduct.

“My view of the evidence is that Mr. Clinesmith likely believed that what he said about Mr. Page was true,” Boasberg said. “By altering the email, he was saving himself some work and taking an inappropriate shortcut.”

Fox echoed the judge’s reasoning in essentially letting Clinesmith off the hook. (The deal they struck, which the U.S. District Court of Appeals that oversees the bar approved in September, called for a one-year suspension, but the suspension began retroactively in August 2020, which made it meaningless.) Boasberg opined that Clinesmith had “already suffered” punishment by losing his FBI job and $150,000 salary.

But, Boasberg assumed, wrongly as it turned out, that Clinesmith also faced possible disbarment. ”And who knows where his earnings go now,” the judge sympathized. “He may be disbarred or suspended from the practice of law.”

Anticipating such a punishment, Boasberg waived a recommended fine of up to $10,000, arguing that Clinesmith couldn’t afford it. He also waived the regular drug testing usually required during probation, while returning Clinesmith’s passport. And he gave his blessing to Clinesmith’s request to serve out his probation as a volunteer journalist, before wishing him well: “Mr. Clinesmith, best of luck to you.”

FBI Should Have Much Higher Standards

Fox did not respond to requests for comment. But he argued in a petition to the board that his deal with Clinesmith was “not unduly lenient,” because it was comparable to sanctions imposed in similar cases. However, none of the cases he cited involved the FBI, Justice Department or FISA court. One case involved a lawyer who made false statements to obtain construction permits, while another made false statements to help a client become a naturalized citizen – a far cry from falsifying evidence to spy on an American citizen.

Durham noted that in providing the legal support for a warrant application to the secret FISA court, Clinesmith had “a heightened duty of candor,” since FISA targets do not have legal representation before the court. He argued Clinesmith’s offense was “a very serious crime with significant repercussions” and suggested it made him unfit to practice law.

“An attorney – particularly an attorney in the FBI’s Office of General Counsel – is the last person that FBI agents or this court should expect to create a false document,” Durham said.

The warrant Clinesmith helped obtain has since been deemed invalid and the surveillance of Page illegal. Never charged with a crime, Page is now suing the FBI and Justice Department for $75 million for violating his constitutional rights against improper searches and seizures.

Explaining the D.C. Bar’s disciplinary process in a 2019 interview with Washington Lawyer magazine, Fox said that “the lawyer has the burden of proving they are fit to practice again. Have they accepted responsibility for their conduct?” His office’s website said a core function is to “deter attorneys from engaging in misconduct.”

In the same interview, Fox maintained that he tries to insulate his investigative decisions from political bias. “I try to make sure our office is not used as a political tool,” he said. “We don’t want to be a political tool for the Democrats or Republicans.”

Bar records from the Clinesmith case show Fox suggested the now-discredited Trump-Russia “collusion” investigation was “a legitimate and highly important investigation.”

Protecting People Who Hurt Trump

One longstanding member of the D.C. Bar with direct knowledge of Clinesmith’s case before the bar suspects its predominantly Democratic board went soft on him due to partisan politics. “The District of Columbia is a very liberal bar,” he said. “Basically, they went light on him because he’s also a Democrat who hated Trump.”

Meanwhile, the D.C. Bar has not initiated disciplinary proceedings against Michael Sussmann, another Washington attorney charged by Durham. Records show Sussmann remains an “active member” of the bar in “good standing,” which also has not been previously reported. The former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer, who recently resigned from Washington-based Perkins Coie LLP, is accused of lying to federal investigators about his client while passing off a report falsely linking Trump to the Kremlin.

While Sussmann has pleaded not guilty and has yet to face trial, criminal grand jury indictments usually prompt disciplinary proceedings and interim suspensions.

Paul Kamenar of the National Legal and Policy Center, a government ethics watchdog, has called for the disbarment of both Clinesmith and Sussmann. He noted that the D.C. Court of Appeals must automatically disbar an attorney who commits a crime of moral turpitude, which includes crimes involving the “administration of justice.”

“Clinesmith pled guilty to a felony. The only appropriate sanction for committing a serious felony that also interfered with the proper administration of justice and constituted misrepresentation, fraud and moral turpitude, is disbarment,” he said. “Anything less would minimize the seriousness of the misconduct” and fail to deter other offenders.

Disciplinary Counsel Fox appears to go tougher on Republican bar members. For example, he recently opened a formal investigation of former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, whom records show Fox put under “temporary disciplinary suspension” pending the outcome of the ethics probe, which is separate from the one being conducted by the New York bar. In July, the New York Bar also suspended the former GOP mayor on an interim basis.

Giuliani has not been convicted of a crime or even charged with one.

This article is republished from RealClearInvestigations, with permission.


Clinton Campaign Lawyer Indicted For Role In Peddling Bogus Russiagate Hoax To FBI

Clinton Campaign Lawyer Indicted For Role In Peddling Bogus Russiagate Hoax To FBI

A grand jury on Thursday returned the second indictment sought by U.S. Special Counsel John Durham in the more than two-year probe investigating the origins of the Russia hoax.

Michael Sussmann, a Washington attorney and former federal prosecutor, was indicted for making a false statement to the FBI in September 2016. Durham alleges Sussmann misrepresented his own capacity when making accusations to the FBI over the course of the agency’s deep-state operation to find Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.

During a requested meeting with the FBI General Counsel, the indictment reads, Sussmann provided the agency three “white papers” which allegedly contained evidence showing secret communications between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank.

“Sussmann stated falsely that he was not doing his work on the aforementioned allegations ‘for any client,’ which led the FBI General Counsel to understand that Sussmann was acting as a good citizen merely passing along information, not as a paid advocate or political operative,” read the indictment. “This statement was intentionally false and misleading because, in assembling and conveying these allegations, Sussmann acted on behalf of specific clients.” Those clients included an executive in the U.S. tech industry and the Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign.

If convicted, Sussmann could face up to five years in federal prison.

In January, former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith, who pleaded guilty to manipulating documents to seek spy warrants on Trump adviser Carter Page, was sentenced to a mere one year of probation and 400 hours of community service without prison time.


Catholic Church Folds to the All Mighty Biden


The Deep State and the Deep Church really are holding hands with each other these days. Allegedly Pope Francis had nothing to do with the way the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops collapsed like a cheap chair, to bow down to Imperial Leader Joe Biden and give him a get out of Hell free card. He can authorize killing babies by the truckload and still take communion.

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Catholic doesn’t mean what it used to

The American Conference of Catholic Bishops got together for a big cage match last week over the wording of a “teaching document.” They came up with a version meant to send a clear message.

By the time the dust settled, it was watered down to less of slap on the wrist than the love-tap given to Kevin Clinesmith for forging evidence against Carter Page.

Conservative Christians, not just the Jesuit and Franciscan ones, were really hoping to see the Imperial Leader Joe and his like-minded baby murderers “be banned from receiving Communion.”

It didn’t happen. Liberal New York Times can’t help gloating. “Biden is the United States’ second Catholic president and the country’s most religiously observant leader since Jimmy Carter. Enforcing the rule to deny Communion would be up to individual bishops.”

The Associated Press added that “One section of the document is intended to include a specific admonition to Catholic politicians and other public figures who disobey church teaching on abortion and other core doctrinal issues.”

That sounded way too good. Four days later it was erased and canceled. The bishops meekly backed down and “released an updated clarification of the Q&A. There was no reference to President Biden, a national policy, or abortion.”

Declining belief and understanding

USCCB spokesunit Chieko Noguchi told rabidly radical Axios the “document’s central goal is to educate Catholics on the Eucharist. Bishops have grown increasingly concerned about the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful.”

Actually it’s more like they are saying “what’s the point if it doesn’t mean anything?”

That’s not the way they do things in Rome, she says. “The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons.”

She also swears up and down that Deep Church Pope Francis “was not involved.” Sure. Retired Pontiff Benedict tried real hard to purge the evil element from Catholic leadership but it’s not easy to fight pure evil, even if you are “infallible.”

The heretical question which caused all the controversy is “whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion” and it was not on the ballot.

“Instead, this document focused on” recommending to support “human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.”


Report: Prosecution of top officials ‘unlikely’ outcome of Durham probe

Report: Prosecution of top officials ‘unlikely’ outcome of Durham probe

While Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe is generally focused on the FBI’s activities, sources familiar with the investigation told Fox News the prosecution of high-ranking FBI officials, such as former Director James Comey, is “unlikely.”

In a report published Tuesday, Fox News reports that sources told the publication that the investigation is ongoing and that Durham last year concluded the part of his investigation looking into the CIA and he is now examining the FBI’s activities.

Additionally, another source told the news outlet that the special counsel had been pursuing “new and credible leads” through the end of the Trump administration, however, Fox News noted that it is unclear at this point what those lines of inquiry entail.

Moreover, a spokesperson for Durham told the outlet that they had “no comment from Mr. Durham.”

Durham’s probe is looking into the origins of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election as well as now-debunked collusion between Russian officials and the Trump campaign. Former President Donald Trump and conservatives have called Mueller’s yearlong probe a “witch hunt” and accused it of being motivated by anti-Trump animus.

Mueller’s investigation yielded no evidence that collusion occurred between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 election.

Tuesday’s report comes after the first and only criminal sentencing stemming from Durham’s investigation was issued last week.

Last Friday, Kevin Clinesmith, a former FBI lawyer, was sentenced to one year of probation and 400 hours of community service for altering an email during the Mueller’s investigation that was used as grounds for the surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

RELATED: Peter Strzok’s wife appointed to high-ranking SEC role

Previously, Comey has said that investigators have yet to reach out to him.

“I have had no contact with him and haven’t talked to him,” the former FBI director told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” back in August. “I can’t imagine that I’m a target.”

Last summer, Durham’s team also questioned former CIA Director John Brennan for about eight hours at the CIA headquarters. Brennan later said through a spokesman he was assured he was “not a target,” according to Fox News.

Back in December, Brennan told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace that he had no issue with Durham’s investigation extending into 2021 and also divulged briefly about the eight-hour session.

“I think that is fine, I have no problems with it,” the former CIA director said, adding that Durham’s team already talked with him for eight hours. “I do believe that John Durham is going to carry out his responsibilities ably and hopefully not with any political influence.”

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.


‘Get Trump’: FBI Whistleblower On Mueller Team Details Real Reason Flynn Was Targeted

In a stunning and detailed interview conducted September 17 by U.S. attorney Jeff Jensen, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) case agent for the original investigation of former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and who later worked on Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel blew the whistle on myriad problems that plagued those investigations from the very beginning.

FBI Special Agent William Barnett told Department of Justice (DOJ) investigators that the handling of the probes troubled him so much that he threatened to quit working on it in one case, and threatened to go to the Inspector General in another. According to the summary of Barnett’s interview, he said there was never any basis for the bizarre “collusion” theory the agency and the special counsel relentlessly pursued, to the point that agents made jokes about how they could take any piece of information and claim it was evidence of collusion. He said the Special Counsel Office (SCO) pursued Flynn simply as a means to “get Trump” and viewed FBI investigators as a “speed bump” slowing down the work of the attorneys leading the inquisition.

The broader Trump investigation was “opaque,” the case theory was “supposition on supposition,” the Flynn probe in particular was “unclear and disorganized,” and its predicate was “not great,” Barnett told investigators. According to the interview notes, he felt there was “little detail concerning specific evidence of criminal events.”

When Barnett was first placed on the case in 2016, he said he assumed he’d have a better understanding of why the investigation into the Trump campaign was launched as he read through the evidence. But “after being involved in the investigation for six weeks, Barnett was still unsure of the basis of the investigation concerning Russia and the Trump Campaign working together, without a specific criminal allegation.” Much was made over the Republican National Convention platform amending a proposed change in support of “lethal assistance” to Ukraine to “appropriate assistance.” While some at the FBI attempted to claim this was a sign of collusion with Russia, he characterized the theory as “groping.”

After moving in 2016 to close the Flynn investigation for complete lack of any evidence of criminal wrongdoing, Barnett was instructed in early 2017 to keep it open and investigate Flynn for a Logan Act violation. The FBI didn’t even have a code for the Logan Act, a never-used, centuries-old law prohibiting private citizens from corresponding with foreign governments. Flynn was not a private citizen, but the incoming National Security Advisor for President Trump when he made phone calls with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, so even if the law were deemed constitutional, it would not have applied to Flynn. Barnett had to research the Logan Act, as he was unfamiliar with it, but “did not see the Logan Act as a serious stand-alone charge.”

When Barnett pushed for a closing interview with Flynn in 2016, as part of the normal procedure for closing cases that were going nowhere, he was rebuffed. But when the FBI later interviewed Flynn, falsely conveying to Flynn that he was not a target of an investigation and not in danger of walking into a perjury trap, Barnett was “cut out” of the January 24, 2017, ambush interview of Flynn, and was not informed of its existence until it had already been conducted. “Typically a line agent/case agent would do the interview with a senior FBI official present in cases concerning high ranking political officials,” the summary of Barnett’s interview noted. While Barnett at first thought the unusual move was part of an effort to close the investigation, he later realized otherwise.

It was not the only time the case agent was cut out of the unusual activity going on in the probe to target Flynn. “[N]either Barnett nor any other line agents were invited to attend” meetings about the Flynn investigation, which was changed to being conducted from the “‘top down,’ meaning direction concerning the investigation was coming from senior officials,” Barnett said. He noted that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was personally directing the Flynn investigation. McCabe was later fired for repeatedly lying under oath about his leaks to the media. McCabe was referred for criminal investigation by the department’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

“Barnett was willing to follow instructions being given by the Deputy Director as long as it was not a violation of law,” the summary of Barnett’s interview stated.

During the interview, Barnett also revealed how the FBI used high-level criminal leaks to advance the agency’s investigation into Trump-related targets. Texts released yesterday showed FBI employees sarcastically pretending to care about the criminal leak of phone calls between Flynn and Kislyak to David Ignatius of the Washington Post and a reporter at the Wall Street Journal. The employees surmised that the leaks came from high-level officials at the White House.

“The FBI was reacting to articles being reported in the news, most notably an article written by Ignatius concerning [REDACTED] involving Flynn to a Russian Ambassador,” Barnett told investigators, saying “the investigative tempo increased” following the article.

By February 2017, Barnett told his unit chief that he wanted to be removed from the case. According to the document detailing his interview, Barnett told investigators the Flynn investigation “was problematic and could result in an IG investigation.”

Barnett relayed how uncomfortable he was with aspects of the case but said that its oversight by FBI attorneys and top FBI officials led him to assume at the time that the investigation was not illegal. “While Barnett questioned the investigative theory, he did not think at the time the investigation was illegal, particularly due to the oversight by attorneys (i.e., CLINESMITH) and the direction being given by top FBI officials,” the interview summary noted. Kevin Clinesmith, an attorney who assured Barnett that the case was being properly handled, has since pleaded guilty to fabricating evidence to support a spy warrant against Carter Page, a separate target in the FBI’s anti-Trump probes.

An analyst who was “very skeptical of the Flynn collusion investigation” was removed from the Flynn investigation, Barnett said. Referring to the factual and legal basis for the ongoing Flynn investigation, Barnett added that he “also thought it was a ‘dumb theory’ that did not make sense,” according to the report of his interview.

The Flynn investigation was folded into the Special Counsel probe when it was launched in May of 2017. Upon its formation, Barnett informed the Special Counsel’s team, including attorney Jeannie Rhee, that there was “no evidence of a crime” committed by Flynn. Rhee, a former outside counsel representing the Clinton Foundation as well as former Obama national security official Ben Rhodes, had been picked by Robert Mueller to be part of the investigation into Donald Trump. When Barnett attempted to brief Rhee on a separate investigative matter, she stopped him and demanded that he “drill down” on the fees Flynn was paid for giving a public speech in Russia. When he explained those fees, she dismissed his assessment. “Barnett thought Rhee was obsessed with Flynn and Russia and she had an agenda,” the summary of Barnett’s interview stated. “Rhee told Barnett she looked forward to working together. Barnett told Rhee they would not be working together.”

Following the briefing of the Special Counsel team, Barnett once again sought to avoid any participation in the anti-Flynn probe. It was Peter Strzok, the fired former FBI counterintelligence official, who urged Barnett to move over to the Special Counsel’s operation. Barnett said he “did not wish to pursue the collusion investigation as it was ‘not there’” but decided to work at the Special Counsel office in the hope his perspective would keep them from “group think.”

Rather than allowing Special Counsel agents to build cases from the bottom up by following leads and evidence, investigative steps were ordered from the top-down, according to Barnett. He characterized the situation as upside down, with attorneys drafting search warrants and asking agents to do little more than sign off on the attorneys’ demands. Barnett repeatedly said there was a “get TRUMP” attitude by officials running the Special Counsel probe.

Barnett relayed how investigators interpreted a Trump request to “get to the bottom” of something as an attempt to obstruct an investigation and “cover it up.” Barnett had to point out that Trump’s literal words contradicted that theory. Special Counsel leaders were convinced that Trump fired disgraced former FBI Director James Comey in order to obstruct investigations of him. Barnett pointed out it was possible that Trump simply didn’t like Comey and wanted him replaced.

The Special Counsel’s leadership was so certain that Trump had directed Flynn to call Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., that they assumed all testimony to the contrary was false. Special Counsel attorneys were frustrated that K.T. McFarland, the incoming deputy National Security Advisor, didn’t support their theory. “Mueller described McFarland as the ‘key to everything’ because McFarland was the link between Trump, who was at Mar-a-Lago with McFarland, and Flynn, who was in the Dominican Republic on vacation, when [REDACTED] were made,” the report of Barnett’s interview says. Because of Barnett’s contrary views, members of Mueller’s team even tried to prevent him from participating in interviews with McFarland, leading Barnett to threaten to go to the Inspector General. Barnett said he believed the Special Counsel was “trying to get McFarland to change her story to fit the Trump collusion theory.”

During a proffer interview with McFarland, the special counsel team asked no follow-up or clarifying questions, which “perplexed” Barnett. He began asking direct questions, trying to “cut to the chase” and get facts directly from the subject of the interview. He asked if she knew things for a fact or if she was merely speculating. He asked if she passed information from Trump to Flynn. These direct questions and their clear answers that undercut their theory of the case led Special Counsel Attorney Andrew Goldstein to call a time-out and caution Barnett against asking them.

“If you keep asking these questions, we will be here all day,” Goldstein reportedly told Barnett.

When Flynn, under pressure from the Special Counsel, answered a question that could have been interpreted as saying Trump was aware of his calls with Kislyak, Barnett drilled down and got a clear answer to the contrary.

“There was always someone at SCO who claimed to have a lead on information that would prove the collusion only to have the information be a dead end,” Barnett told investigators about the “numerous attempts” that were made to obtain evidence against Trump. The efforts always ended “with no such evidence being obtained,” Barnett said. He said the assumptions about such direction were just “astro projection,” and the “ground just kept being retreaded.” At one point, for example, Andrew Weissman reportedly got excited about “a meeting on a yacht near Greece that was going to be proof of collusion, ‘quid pro quo,’” according to the report. Like the other claims, it went nowhere.

Barnett painted a picture of a Special Counsel that was run the opposite of the way a typical FBI investigation would be. “Typically investigators push for legal process and have to explain the need for the request to the attorneys. Barnett said the SCO attorneys were pushing for legal process and just wanted investigators to sign affidavits they prepared,” he said, according to the report. He said every request was “green-lighted” and that seasoned FBI agents were viewed as a “speed bump” to the attorneys leading the investigations.

The situation was so extreme that Barnett and others joked about how it was like a game, which they referred to as Collusion Clue. “In the hypothetical game, investigators are able to choose any character conducting any activity, in any location, and pair this individual with another character and interpret it as evidence of collusion,” Barnett said, according to the report of his interview.

Barnett also referenced recent revelations that SCO members regularly wiped their phones and electronic devices to prevent examinations of their communications. According to records released earlier this month, more than a dozen top members of Mueller’s team wiped their phones by entering the wrong password or other means. Barnett told investigators that he did not wipe his phone, although he did recall hearing other members of Mueller’s team joking about wiping their phones.

“Barnett believed the prosecution of Flynn by SCO was used as a means to ‘get TRUMP,’” the report of his interview concluded.

The interview was conducted as part of a larger probe into the sprawling investigation into President Donald Trump and his affiliates.


FBI Lawyer’s Guilty Plea Suggests Spygate Corruption Goes Way Higher

Last week’s guilty plea by Kevin Clinesmith represents the first concrete evidence of movement in U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into the Russia collusion hoax. The plea agreement, which was released on Wednesday, suggests another area ripe for inquiry: FBI Agent Stephen Somma’s earlier misrepresentation of former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page’s status to those preparing the initial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications to surveil Page.

Clinesmith, who served as an assistant general counsel in the National Security and Cyber Law Branch of the FBI’s Office of General Counsel, admitted in his plea agreement that he had added the phrase “was not a source” to an email from an unidentified governmental agency, most likely the CIA, concerning Page’s “operation contact” with that agency.

Clinesmith admitted that he had altered the email after a Crossfire Hurricane FBI supervisory special agent (SSA) had asked him to determine if Page had ever been a source for that agency, and wanted something “in writing.” Clinesmith forwarded the altered email to the SSA. That cleared the way for the U.S. Department of Justice to obtain the final FISA surveillance order on Page.

Significantly, the plea agreement also noted that “[o]n August 17, 2016, prior to the approval of FISA #1, the [other governmental agency] provided certain members of the Crossfire Hurricane team a memorandum (‘August 17 Memorandum’) indicating that [Page] had been approved as an ‘operational contact’ for the [other governmental agency] from 2008 to 2013 and detailing information that [Page] had provided to that [agency] concerning [Page]’s prior contacts with certain Russian intelligence officers.”

As the plea agreement highlighted, “the first three FISA applications did not include [Page]’s history or status with the [other governmental agency.]” And they should have, as Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on FISA abuse concluded.

So, while Clinesmith bears responsibility for altering the email concerning Page’s status, thereby clearing the way for the fourth FISA warrant, someone or some-many are responsible for failing to inform the individuals drafting and approving the initial FISA application (and first two renewals) about the details of the August 17, 2016, memo. That fault lies with those “certain members of the Crossfire Hurricane team” who received the August 17, 2016, memo.

About Those ‘Certain Members’

But who were these “certain members”? The IG report identified one as “Case Agent 1,” and about six months ago, The New York Times outed Somma as Case Agent 1. (The IG report also revealed that Case Agent 1 was Stefan Halper’s handler—more on that connection later).

Following Somma’s naming of Case Agent 1, there has been scant mention in the media or in congressional oversight hearings about his role in Spygate. But the reference in Clinesmith’s plea agreement to other members of the Crossfire Hurricane team having received the memorandum detailing Page’s work with the other intelligence agency suggests Somma’s conduct may also be a focus of the Durham probe. While there have been no leaks from Durham’s team to forecast what will come next, revisiting the IG report, in light of Clinesmith’s plea, provides a hint.

One of the 17 substantial errors or omissions IG Horowitz detailed was the omission of “information the FBI had obtained from another U.S. government agency detailing its prior relationship with Page, . . .” In the 400-page report, the IG elaborated on this omission, explaining that “on or about August 17, 2016, in response to the Crossfire Hurricane team’s prior Carter Page name trace request,” “the Crossfire Hurricane team received a memorandum from another U.S. government agency detailing its prior interactions with Page, including that Page had been approved as an ‘operational contact’ for the other agency from 2008 to 2013. The memorandum also detailed the information that Page had provided to the other agency concerning his prior contacts with certain Russian intelligence officers.”

The IG report added it found “no evidence” that, prior to submitting the first FISA application, the Crossfire Hurricane team “requested additional information from the other agency” concerning Page’s relationship. (That did not occur until Page went public about his relationship with the intelligence community and Clinesmith was directed to investigate Page’s claims.)

More People Hiding the Truth about Carter Page

Additionally, no one from the Crossfire Hurricane team provided attorneys from the National Security Division—the division that assists with FISA applications—the August 17, 2016, memorandum or informed them of that memorandum’s contents. That information was “highly relevant to the potential FISA application,” according to the IG report. Further, the “FISA request form” Case Agent 1 prepared did not include information received “relating to Page’s prior relationship with that [other intelligence] agency and prior contacts with Russian intelligence officers.”

But it was not merely that no one shared that information with the NSD: The IG report expressly stated that “in late September 2016,” an attorney with the Office of Intelligence who was “assisting on the FISA application,” “explicitly asked” Case Agent 1 “about Page’s prior relationship with this other agency.” And that “Case Agent 1 did not accurately describe the nature and extent of the information the FBI received from the other agency.”

Specifically, in a draft of the FISA application, the OI Attorney asked Case Agent 1 whether there was “any truth to Page’s claim that he has provided information to [another U.S. government agency]—was he considered a source/asset/whatever?” In reply, Case Agent 1 inserted this comment: “He did meet with [the other U.S. government agency], however, it’s dated and I would argue it was/is outside scope, I don’t think we need it in. It was years ago, when he was in Moscow. If you want to keep it, I can get the language from the [August 17 Memorandum] we were provided [by the other U.S. government agency].”

Case Agent 1’s statement was inaccurate in several respects, as the IG report detailed. Specifically:

In response to a question from the OI Attorney in late September 2016 as to whether Carter Page had a current or prior relationship with the other agency, Case Agent 1 stated that Page’s relationship was ‘date’ (when Page lived in Moscow in 2004-2007) and ‘outside scope.’ This representation was contrary to the information the other agency provided in its August 17, 2016 memorandum to the FBI, which stated that Page was approved as an operational contact of the other agency from 2008 to 2013 (after Page had left Moscow). . . . Moreover, rather than being outside the scope of the FISA application, Page’s status with the other agency overlapped in time with some of the interactions between Page and known Russian intelligence officers alleged in the FISA applications. Further, Page provided information to the other agency about his past contacts with a Russian intelligence officers (Intelligence Officer 1), which were among the historical connections to Russian intelligence officers that the FBI relied upon in the first FISSA application (and subsequent renewal applications) to help support probable cause.

So, will Case Agent 1’s inaccurate statements lead to criminal charges, as in the case of Clinesmith? It all depends on intent: Did Case Agent 1 intentionally provide the OI inaccurate information?

Case Agent 1 Says He Can’t Remember

In Horowitz’s report, he noted that the IG’s office asked Case Agent 1 about his knowledge of Page’s relationship with the other agency, but Case Agent 1 claimed not to “recall his state of knowledge in 2016 regarding Page’s history with the other U.S. government agency.” Case Agent 1 told the IG office it was possible he never reviewed the August 17 memorandum, but “he believed that he likely would have reviewed the August 17 Memorandum about Page, . . .”

Case Agent 1 added that “I think I would have reviewed it with the team. I think that it would have been, you know, as we looked at it. It wasn’t just me. But, we, you know, there was a determination made that it was dated.”

The IG office concluded then, that Case Agent 1 “was unable to reconcile for us the information he provided to the OI Attorney with the information in the August 17 Memorandum or FBI case files, explaining to the OIG that he did not recall his state of knowledge in 2016 regarding Page’s history with the other U.S. government agency.”

In the end, the IG report left open the question of Case Agent 1’s intent. While stressing that “Case Agent 1 was primarily responsible for some of the most significant errors and omissions in the FISA applications,” including “providing inaccurate and incomplete information to OI about information provided by another U.S. government agency regarding its past relationship with Page that was highly relevant to the applications,” the IG report noted that it “found no documentary or testimonial evidence that this pattern of errors by Case Agent 1 was intentional.” Yet the IG added that “we also did not find his explanations for so many significant and repeated failures to be satisfactory.”

Suspicious Cluster in the FBI’s New York Field Office

Whether U.S. Attorney Durham will find evidence of intent—if any exists—however, is another question. He has access to broader powers than Inspector General Horowitz had, including the power to call witnesses before a grand jury.

Further, we know from Clinesmith’s plea agreement that he has “agree[d] to be personally debriefed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (‘FBI’) regarding the FBI’s review of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (‘FISA’) matters and any information he possesses, direct or indirect, that should be brought to the attention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (‘FISC’).” That debriefing may shed more light on what happened and who knew what, and when.

But even if Durham finds no crime, his investigation may reveal other significant facts. Here, then, we circle back to the curious case of Stefan Halper and Case Agent 1’s seemingly serendipitous role as his handler. As I wrote shortly after The New York Times named Somma as Case Agent 1:

Now that we know Somma’s identity, there’s a surrealness to this entire scene. Case Agent #1 was instantaneously interested in surveilling Page (but not Papadopoulos—that would come later). Yet such surveillance would only be approved the following month when Steele’s reporting finally made its way to the FBI’s D.C. headquarters.

Recall that the IG report maintained “the FBI first received reporting from Christopher Steele regarding alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections in early July 2016,” but the Crossfire Hurricane team “did not become aware of the Steele reporting until September 19, 2016.” But before then, only Steele’s handler and select agents in the New York Field Office knew of Steele’s reporting.

You know where Somma worked before joining the Crossfire Hurricane team in D.C. in August 2016? The FBI New York Field Office, where he served as a special agent for counter-intelligence with a focus on Russia.

The New York Field Office received Steele’s reporting in July when Steele’s handler, FBI Agent Michael Gaeta, on July 28, 2016, sent Steele’s first two memos to the assistant special agent in charge of the New York field office. While the assistant special agent in charge assured Gaeta the reports would be “walled off” from agents in New York field office, might Somma nonetheless have known of Steele’s reporting? Was that why he was so anxious to obtain a FISA warrant on Page?

Other Crossfire Hurricane Members Implicated in Lies

Beyond these questions, there also remains the question of what other members of the Crossfire Hurricane team knew of Page’s relationship with the other agency and who else bore responsibility for the omission in the initial FISA application. Clinesmith’s plea agreement and the IG report suggest other members of the Crossfire Hurricane team besides Case Agent 1 may be implicated.

The plea agreement noted that the August 17, 2016, memorandum on Page was provided to “certain members of the Crossfire Hurricane team,” meaning more than one. Further, the IG report stated that “on September 28, 2016, the OI Attorney emailed Case Agent 1 a draft of the FISA application, copying other members of the Crossfire Hurricane team. As noted above, in a comment in the draft application, the OI Attorney asked ‘do we know if there is any truth to Page’s claim that he has provided information to [another U.S. government agency]—was he considered a source/asset/whatever?”

What we don’t know from the report is who those other members of the team were, although the IG report suggests that Supervisory Special Agent 1 (reportedly Joseph Pientka) also received the August 17 memorandum. That possibility is suggested by the IG’s conclusion that “Case Agent 1 or his supervisor, SSA 1, should have ensured that someone on the team contacted the other agency after receiving the August 17 Memorandum to determine what it meant for Page to have been approved as an operational contact.” How could SSA 1 be expected to ensure someone contacted the other agency about a memorandum they never received?

But could that knowledge have gone higher? Maybe even to the top? Here there’s a significant point from the IG report overlooked by the corporate media circling to protect James Comey: The IG could not determine the extent of Comey’s “knowledge as to each fact that was not shared with OI and not included, or inaccurately stated, in the FISA applications.” “These factors included, among other things, limited recollections, the inability to question Comey about classified material because of his lack of a security clearance, and the absence of meeting minutes that would show the specific details shared with Comey” (emphasis added).

The August 17 memorandum would clearly be classified, and because Comey refused to allow his security clearance to be reinstated, the IG could not show Comey that memorandum and quiz him on whether he had reviewed it, or ask if he had been informed of the contents of the memorandum before signing the FISA application.

Hopefully, Durham shines some light on these and other questions—and soon.


Exclusive: Carter Page Reacts To Clinesmith Guilty Plea, Says There’s More To Come





Listen to “Carter Page Responds to Clinesmith’s Guilty Plea, Teases More To Come” on Spreaker.

On Thursday’s episode of “The Sara Carter Show,” Former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page first reacted to the news of former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith’s guilty plea before a federal court this week. Clinesmith could face up to six months in prison for altering the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants used to spy on Page in order to obtain dirt on the Campaign, which he admitted to before the Judge.

Page told Carter of Clinesmith’s plea, “Sara, to me and I think, as you’ve been correctly reporting accurately for years now. I’m still not sure now why you haven’t received a Pulitzer prize for your incredible work whereas a lot of people from the New York Times and Washington Post have, but… as you’ve been saying for a long time, there’s a lot more to come.”

He added, “And I think what’s really nice about what happened last Friday. It really was a turning point. And if you read those five pages in the charging document against Mr. Clinesmith and the elements to that… there’s a lot of interesting clues and… having lived through it, I know there’s a lot more interesting clues as well… This is definitely another indication that there should be so much more to come.”

Moreover, Page says he’s feeling more “optimistic” about what’s to come from U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into the now-debunked ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.



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