Former FBI lawyer expected to plead guilty to falsifying e-mail in Russia investigation: report

Former FBI lawyer expected to plead guilty to falsifying e-mail in Russia investigation: report
News & Politics

Kevin Clinesmith, a former lawyer for the FBI, will be pleading guilty to altering a CIA e-mail that was sent during the Russia investigation, the New York Times is reporting.

According to Times reporter Adam Goldman, Clinesmith’s decision to plead guilty and accept a plea deal has been confirmed by “three people familiar with the case.” And Politico’s Kyle Cheney has confirmed that, according to a lawyer for Clinesmith, he will be pleading guilty.

The CIA e-mail that Clinesmith admitted to falsifying, Goldman notes, was one that “investigators relied on to seek renewed court permission in 2017 for a secret wiretap on the former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, who had, at times, provided information to the spy agency.”

When he was assigned to the Russia investigation, Clinesmith sent texts that were critical of President Donald Trump — who, Goldman points out, “is sure to tout the plea agreement as evidence that the Russia investigation was illegitimate and politically motivated.”

Trump, during the U.S. Department of Justice’s probe of Russian government interference in the 2016 presidential election, repeatedly slammed the investigation as a “witch hunt” that had no legitimate basis. However, Goldman notes that according to the Times’ sources, prosecutors in Clinesmith’s case are “not expected to reveal any evidence in charging documents that show Mr. Clinesmith’s actions were part of any broader conspiracy to undermine Mr. Trump.” And Michael Horowitz, in his role as inspector general for the DOJ, found that investigators had good reason to launch the Russia investigation and did not launch it because of political bias.

Horowitz, in a report, found that errors were made in the Russia investigation. However, his report did not determine that the investigation itself was illegitimate.

Trump alleged that former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who conducted the Russia investigation starting in 2017, was politically biased and a tool of the Democratic Party. However, Mueller is a long-time Republican known for politically conservative views.

Clinesmith, according to Goldman, “incorrectly said that Mr. Page was ‘never a source’” and altered a CIA e-mail “to say that Mr. Page had not been a source” — and in doing so, Goldman notes, Clinesmith made a “material change to a document used in a federal investigation.”

Goldman reports: “Mr. Clinesmith did not change the document in an attempt to cover up the FBI’s mistake, the people familiar with the case said. His lawyers argued that he had made the change in good faith because he did not think that Mr. Page had been an actual source for the CIA.”

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