WASHINGTON D.C.—Former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty on Wednesday, August 19, to falsifying an email used to support surveilling President Trump’s former campaign aide Carter Page.
Under federal prosecutor John Durham, appointed by Attorney General William Barr, the case against Clinesmith was brought forth to review the origins of the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller yielded no evidence of criminal conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Clinesmith, who worked for the FBI for four years, is accused of altering a 2017 email that investigators relied on to justify wiretapping Page. The altered email stated that Page was “not a source” for the Central Intelligence Agency, but the CIA’s original email stated otherwise. The CIA indicated to investigators that Page was an “operational contact” for the agency from 2008 to 2013, which would explain Page’s interactions with Russians.
Clinesmith pleaded guilty via audio conference to “one count of making a false statement within both the jurisdiction of the executive branch and judicial branch of the U.S. government, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.”
The sentencing is up to U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, who accepted Clinesmith’s plea.
Resigning from the FBI before an internal disciplinary process could be completed, Clinesmith, according to his attorney, “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 [he] understands what he did was wrong and accepts responsibility.”
U.S. Attorney John Durham affirmed that “Clinesmith, did willfully and knowingly make and use a false wiring 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.”
President Trump called Clinesmith “corrupt” in a press conference and added: “The fact is they spied on my campaign and they got caught. And you’ll be hearing more.”
Clinesmith’s sentencing date has been set for December 10.