Patterico's Pontifications

8/19/2020

Open Thread: Ex-FBI Lawyer Kevin Clinesmith Pleads Guilty To Falsifying Document

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:22 pm



[guest post by Dana]

CNN reports:

Former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith formally pleaded guilty on Wednesday to changing text in an email when working to renew the surveillance application of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in 2017.

Judge James Boasberg of the DC District Court accepted his plea at a hearing that lasted about an hour Wednesday.

Clinesmith admitted to one charge of inserting the words “not a source” into an email in 2017 about Page’s history with the CIA, when Page had been a contact. The email was part of preparations officials were making to apply for a renewal to Page’s wiretap in 2017. The Justice Department has since invalidated that renewal application, and several officials have harshly criticized FBI procedures in the handling of surveillance applications.

“At the time I believed the information I was providing in the email was accurate. But I am agreeing that the information I inserted into the email was not originally there and I inserted that information,” Clinesmith told the judge over the phone on Wednesday.

Clinesmith will be sentenced Dec. 10.

–Dana

49 Responses to “Open Thread: Ex-FBI Lawyer Kevin Clinesmith Pleads Guilty To Falsifying Document”

  1. Hello.

    Dana (292df6)

  2. I think it’s interesting that they got the original warrant and the first 2? renewals without that in the email, but then he felt he needed to insert it into the next renewal application.

    Nic (896fdf)

  3. Good, i’m glad he’s being punished for this. Any lawyers have insight into a likely sentence?

    Time123 (ea2b98)

  4. Thank you for all the posts, Dana. It’s like having a fresh sandbox, everyday, in which to play.

    felipe (023cc9)

  5. @3 Not a lawyer, but pretty sure it’s a 0 – 6 month range and wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t get any jailtime.

    Probation and possible loss of Bar license is pretty significant punishment imo.

    The twist here is that he was a DOJ official, so he may “score” higher on the sentencing guidelines for abuse of office.

    All of that may be mitigated if he cooperates with the Durham investigators. Remember, he was involved with Crossfire Hurricane AND was on the Mueller team for 9 months. (which is why Weismann and lawfarebloggers are chirping lately pushing out their “spins”). So Clinesmith can provide a lot of the “inside baseball” stuff.

    whembly (c30c83)

  6. A Recent Prosecution Shows the Hypocrisy of Flynn’s Defenders

    Materiality appears to mean different things to the leadership of the Justice Department these days, depending on the defendant.

    …..One element of the statute to which Clinesmith will plead guilty requires that his false statement be “material.” As the Justice Department has long argued—and as federal courts have long held—that means that his false statement had a “natural tendency” to influence a pending matter (here, the surveillance application to the court) or was “capable” of influencing that matter. This is typically an easy element to meet.

    Notably, the statute to which Clinesmith will plead guilty is the same statute to which Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn twice pleaded guilty in federal court. Yet while many of Flynn’s supporters—the president among them—have defended Flynn by arguing that his lies were not material, this chorus has not lifted its collective voice on behalf of Clinesmith.

    ……Clinesmith told the Justice Department inspector general that he viewed a source as someone who was a recruited asset, whereas an operational contact was someone who interacted with a source. Even though the altered email was accurate—Page was not a source—Clinesmith’s representation of the language of the email itself was false. This alteration was material because it tended to diminish Page’s relationship with the CIA, which may have provided an innocent explanation for his otherwise suspicious contacts with Russians.
    …..
    As with Clinesmith, in prosecuting Flynn the government had to prove the materiality of Flynn’s lies about his December 2016 telephone conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States. In those conversations, Flynn urged Russia not to retaliate for sanctions imposed by the outgoing Obama administration.

    It was absolutely material to an FBI counterintelligence investigation that Flynn, the incoming national security adviser, lied to White House colleagues and then to FBI special agents about conversations with the Russian ambassador that undermined the foreign policy of the United States. …… Not only were the conversations concerning, but Flynn’s apparent lies about them to the vice president exposed him to blackmail by the Kremlin, which knew the truth. It would have been a gross dereliction of duty for the FBI not to investigate this matter and not to question Flynn.
    ……
    We wonder why these Flynn defenders—led by the president and the attorney general—have not lifted their voices on behalf of Clinesmith. Proof of materiality seems weaker in Clinesmith’s case than in Flynn’s. The CIA email that Clinesmith altered stated accurately that Page was “not a source” but that he was an “operational contact,” that is, someone with a relationship with the CIA. Clinesmith’s alteration arguably clarified the adviser’s relationship with the CIA rather than obscuring it, though this does not excuse his misrepresentation.

    In the real world, these details about Clinesmith’s email do not defeat the materiality requirement—especially given that, as we have noted, materiality is typically easy to prove. But the arguments made in defense of Flynn would also seem to apply to Clinesmith. If we applied the ridiculous standard used by the Justice Department in the Flynn case to Clinesmith, then his alteration was similarly not material.
    …….
    ……. Both Clinesmith and Flynn, we believe, made materially false statements to the FBI. Why do the Flynn apologists raise their voices for one man, but not the other, when similar arguments could be raised for both? Do they prefer the conviction of Clinesmith and the absolution of Flynn? That would be gross hypocrisy.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  7. @6 lawfareblog spins again… the materiality requirements between Flynn and Clinesmiths are “apples and oranges”.

    It reeks of desperation.

    whembly (c30c83)

  8. I think it’s interesting that they got the original warrant and the first 2? renewals without that in the email, but then he felt he needed to insert it into the next renewal application.

    According to the Horowitz report (page 249), they did not know that Page had past contacts with the CIA until the final renewal, and the agent in charge wanted reassurance that he wasn’t a source. The request below was sent to Clinesmith:

    We need some clarification on Carter Page. There is an indication that he may be a “[digraph]” source. This is a fact we would need to disclose in our next FISA renewal (we would not name the U.S. government agency of course).
    To that end, can we get two items from you?
    1) Source Check/ Is Page a source in any capacity?
    2) If he is, what is a “[digraph]” source (or whatever type of source he is)?

    According to Horowitz, the suggestion that Page had contacts with the intelligence community arose from Page’s media interviews in which he made that claim.

    Dave (1bb933)

  9. You know, Democrats told us this whole Russia thing was a slam dunk. Collusion everywhere! Makes you wonder why FBI lawyers had to alter emails and lie if that were the case.

    Hoi Polloi (dc4124)

  10. Why do the Flynn apologists raise their voices for one man, but not the other, when similar arguments could be raised for both?

    I’m a Flynn apologist like you’re a Clinesmith apologist. But here ya go:

    1) Because a cop who plants evidence is not the same as a someone caught in a perjury trap.
    2) Because the Logan Act is a joke and surveillance warrants aren’t.
    3) Because Clinesmith’s crime was an unforced error, and Flynn’s wasn’t.

    beer ‘n pretzels (00b6c2)

  11. lawfarebloggers

    Lawfare Blog in association with Brookings Institute…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  12. It is pretty pathetic that the FBI had to lie on their FISA applications. The FISA process is a complete softball – there is no defense. And yet, the FBI’s applications were so bad that the FISA court mandated an FBI explanation and increased training to ensure the FBI doesn’t screw up or lie on more FISA applications.

    And what did the FBI find – no collusion.

    That Steele Dossier is looking more and more like a political hit piece all the time.

    Hoi Polloi (dc4124)

  13. And what did the FBI find – no collusion.

    To Donald Trump Jr:

    Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting.

    The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.

    This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump – helped along by Aras and Emin.

    What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?

    I can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.

    From: Donald Trump Jr

    Thanks Rob I appreciate that. I am on the road at the moment but perhaps I just speak to Emin first. Seems we have some time and if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer. Could we do a call first thing next week when I am back?

    Dave (1bb933)

  14. @8 I see. Thanks Dave. It sounds like he should have said something along the lines of yes he was, but he was operating outside of his guidelines.

    @9 The recent Senate intelligence committee stuff is kinda ugly. They probably shouldn’t have felt they needed to lie.

    Nic (896fdf)

  15. It is pretty pathetic that the FBI had to lie on their FISA applications.

    There’s no evidence they lied.

    Dave (1bb933)

  16. @10, they didn’t need a logan act violation to question Flynn. They had a CI predicate for talking to Flynn.

    Here are some highlights that show it was a reasonable suspicion.

    The Committee found that the Russian government engaged in an aggressive, multifaceted effort to influence, or attempt to influence, the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

    The Committee found that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian
    effort to hack computer networks and accounts affiliated with the Democratic Party and leak
    information damaging to Hillary Clinton and her campaign for president. Moscow’s intent was
    to harm the Clinton Campaign, tarnish an expected Clinton presidential administration, help the
    Trump Campaign after Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, and undermine the
    U.S. democratic process.

    While the GRU and WikiLeaks were releasing hacked documents, the Trump
    Campaign sought to maximize the impact of those leaks to aid Trump’s electoral
    prospects. Staff on the Trump Campaign sought advance notice about WikiLeaks releases,
    created messaging strategies to promote and share the materials in anticipation of and following
    thdr release, and encouraged further leaks. The Trump Campaign publicly undermined the
    attribution of the hack-and-leak campaign to Russia and was indifferent to whether it and
    WikiLeaks were furthering a Russian election interference effort. T

    The Transition Team repeatedly took actions that had the potential, and sometimes
    the effect, of interfering in the Obama Administration’s diplomatic efforts. This created
    confusion among U.S. allies and other world leaders, most notably surrounding negotiations over
    a UN Security Council Resolution on Israel. Russia may have deferred response to the sanctions
    the Obama Administration put in place in late December because of Flynn’s intervention and
    promise of a new relationship with the Trump administration.

    Time123 (b87ded)

  17. deep state be walkin

    mg (8cbc69)

  18. barr needs to don his alaskan safari wear and pontoon plane in to do some oil dealing with the eskimos

    mg (8cbc69)

  19. 16… there is no media as we used to know it. They are worse than useless.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  20. @18 Except, Crossfire Razor was being closed in early January.

    Only to be ministerily kept opened by Peter Strzok.

    The DOJ reviewed Flynn’s case and determine there was no crime as the investigation was over.

    whembly (c30c83)

  21. It sounds like he should have said something along the lines of yes he was, but he was operating outside of his guidelines.

    If you read the exchanges between Clinesmith and the person at the CIA, there was some distinction made between being a source and being a contact. Clinesmith claims he misunderstood.

    He sent the original email (without his three added words) to quite a few people, which indicates to me that he didn’t view the change as contradicting the original.

    He might be lying about misunderstanding, or he might not be. Altering the email is enough to make him guilty, regardless.

    Dave (1bb933)

  22. 17… keep rogering dat poultry, Dave!

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  23. There’s no evidence they lied.

    You should tell Clinesmith he didn’t lie. He could have used you before he made a deal.

    Hoi Polloi (dc4124)

  24. Pretty good ad… https://twitter.com/nedryun/status/1295691801416826880?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1295691801416826880%7Ctwgr%5E&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ace.mu.nu%2F

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0) — 8/19/2020 @ 3:10 pm

    That is a good ad. It really covers a lot of ground with democrats and power. It’s hard for me to take Trump seriously on civil rights, abortion, energy policy, but it’s easy for me to be concerned about the democrats on the same issues.

    He might be lying about misunderstanding, or he might not be. Altering the email is enough to make him guilty, regardless.

    Dave (1bb933) — 8/19/2020 @ 2:53 pm

    I think the issue is that if you’re taking someone’s freedom away, with a warrant or something else, and you fudge, that’s not really a clerical error. And look how much this helps Trump and his allies in Moscow. Look at when this has become an issue, right at the best time for them.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  25. Being closed = still open.

    Time123 (9f42ee)

  26. You should tell Clinesmith he didn’t lie. He could have used you before he made a deal.

    When making his plea, he testified that he did not believe what he added was inaccurate:

    “At the time, I believed that the information I was providing in the email was accurate,” Mr. Clinesmith said. “But I am agreeing that the information I inserted into the email was not originally there, and I inserted that information.”

    Dave (1bb933)

  27. Between @15 and @17, Dave did some serious goalpost heavy lifting.

    beer ‘n pretzels (66ab3d)

  28. so steele, had to pay money to the russian oligarchs, not deripasha who he worked with, his network of assets were his coin dealer and his drinking buddies, then we have the lie against carter page, the faulty fisa, was leaked to miss watkins, who earns her scoops the old fashion way, we have the supposed soviet operative klimnik, but they left out the fact he worked an aid contract, with mccains outfit,

    now in real news, it seems the chinese had a former asset in the cia, who had spent 12 years back in china, had been briefed by chinese intelligence, then sent back to hawaii, and was hired as a translator for mueller, for another dozen years, what clown show passes it self off as intelligence?

    bolivar de gris (7404b5)

  29. @9 The recent Senate intelligence committee stuff is kinda ugly. They probably shouldn’t have felt they needed to lie.

    Nic (896fdf) — 8/19/2020 @ 2:46 pm

    Exactly. Probable cause is not a very high standard. The bending the facts might seem like ‘oh this guy is just real zealous to get the job done, rules be damned’ but no, even that (unacceptable) excuse doesn’t cut it. This really goes to credibility. It makes people wonder where else they lied. It’s another stroke of luck for these very lucky bad guys.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  30. “The constable blundered so the criminal goes free” used to be a law-and-order conservative’s complaint about the exclusionary rule. Now, it’s a duck-plucker excuse for treason.

    nk (1d9030)

  31. 29… his truth then…

    FFS… lol.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  32. @34: Great point nk, other than the fact the constable didn’t “blunder” and Carter Page wasn’t a criminal.

    beer ‘n pretzels (f6fadb)

  33. Every counselor’s a criminal
    And all the Demmies saints
    As heads is tails
    The work of Lucifer
    Don’t need no prior restraint

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  34. It makes people wonder where else they lied. It’s another stroke of luck for these very lucky bad guys.

    My gosh… serious introspection for some… they were so sure… Deep State bureaucracy would never lie about something as important as an attempted coup, right?

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  35. no certainly not, coronello, so there was ames who was a soviet spy for about 10 years, hansen for about 16, kendall myers for the cuban regime for 30 years, and now this chang character for anywhere between 20 and maybe 20 years, but they are laser focused on other matters,

    bolivar de gris (7404b5)

  36. My gosh… serious introspection for some… they were so sure… Deep State bureaucracy would never lie about something as important as an attempted coup, right?

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0) — 8/19/2020 @ 4:09 pm

    I don’t think there’s ever been any doubt that some democrats would love to knock a republican out of office. Al Gore tried this 20 years ago. It’s the character of politics now.

    Al Gore, Valerie Plame, etc. Frankly Trump was practically trying it too with the birther thing, he just wasn’t a government employee.

    But Trump’s foreign policy decisions are pretty strong evidence in my book that Putin has leverage over him. And we know about Flynn, Don Trump Jr, and now there’s a lot of smoke behind this Ghislaine tape theory.

    It turns out that a nuclear family, good honest values, maybe even a little military service, the America that valued those things in its leaders was picking much, much better leaders.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  37. Man… flames right at I-80 in Fairfield, cars stopped, thoughts and prayers for these people.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  38. KCRA carrying live…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  39. @41 The call I got this morning? Yeah. Dad and Uncle are trying to get my grandmere out of Fairfield and she won’t leave. Two of my coworkers have husbands who are fire fighters and their stations have loaned them to Solano County, so they’ve been out fighting it all day. My friend is a VUSD employee. Their schools are cancells and she says that every truck owning district employee had turned out to haul out important stuff for any coworker or coworker’s family who might be effected and they are all making guest rooms available.

    Nic (896fdf)

  40. Teh professional Fake Con/NeverTrump contingent is close to being totes funded by wealthy leftwingers who recognize unprincipled grifting when they see it.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  41. Yes, Nic, bad news all the way around. Our son’s in-laws are in Fairfield (okay so far) but one of his sis-in-laws and her husband were evacuated this AM from their home in Fairfield.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  42. @45 I wish them the best of all luck. (the thoughts have prayers have been there for the better part of the last 12 hrs.)

    Nic (896fdf)

  43. When making his plea, he testified that he did not believe what he added was inaccurate:

    Ah…The George Costanza defense. That’s always a good one.

    Hoi Polloi (dc4124)

  44. “At the time, I believed that the information I was providing in the email was accurate,” Mr. Clinesmith said. “But I am agreeing that the information I inserted into the email was not originally there, and I inserted that information.”

    Doesn’t matter if Clinesmith believed his insertions were accurate. He corrupted evidence to the FISA court.

    Eyefull (fd0e2c)

  45. 47… a pathetically funny excuse worthy of a true clown.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)


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