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U.S. Attorney John Durham, who has been conducting a criminal probe of the origins of an FBI operation to spy on President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, has reportedly secured his first guilty plea.
Reports Friday noted that former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith has agreed to plead guilty to making a false statement in connection with the “Crossfire Hurricane” counterintelligence probe that was based on little actual evidence that the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia.
Kevin Clinesmith criminal information signed by John Durham PDF: https://t.co/sc8g5mk7zn
— Ivan Pentchoukov (@IvanPentchoukov) August 14, 2020
Earlier, a criminal referral for Clinesmith was sent to the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General, which had completed its own review of the Russia probe.
The DoJ IG accused Clinesmith, without naming him in a subsequent report, of changing an email regarding former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, who was the subject of multiple FISA court surveillance warrants.
Clinesmith changed a portion of at least one application to say that Page was “not a source” for another government agency, in this case, the CIA.
The Justice Department relied on Clinesmith’s claim when submitting a third and fourth renewal application to the FISA court in 2017 to continue spying on Page, despite the fact that the FBI never really had any indication that the Trump campaign had done anything improper.
Clinesmith will be charged in federal court in Washington, D.C., and is expected to plead guilty to one count of making a false statement, according to his attorney Justice Shur.
Let me correct the mainstream: Clinesmith is not some low level agent. That is complete and purposeful mischaracterization.
— Adam Housley (@adamhousley) August 14, 2020
Attorney General William Barr appointed Durham last year to look into the origins of the FBI’s ‘Spygate’ probe not long after former special counsel Robert Mueller finished his investigation, in which he determined no evidence of collusion was found.
The Connecticut-based U.S. attorney focused on the time period of July 2016 through the appointment of Mueller in May 2017, just a few months after President Trump was inaugurated.
CBS News Senior Investigative Correspondent Catherine Herridge reported on the shocking development on Twitter.
altered an official record (CIA email) that was used to continue surveillance in 2017 on former Trump campaign aide @carterwpage. CBS News has learned that after FBI records were declassified by @DNI_Ratcliffe last month showing Clinesmith was part of a team using a 2016…
— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) August 14, 2020
direction of, or with the approval of his FBI leadership. Typically, plea deals have an expectation the individual cooperates.
— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) August 14, 2020
On Thursday during an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Barr teased a “development” on Friday that he said wouldn’t be “earth-shattering” but would instead be “an indication that things are moving along at the proper pace as dictated by the facts in this investigation.”
“I’ve said the American people need to know what actually happened. We need to get the story of what happened in 2016 and 2017 out. That will be done,” he said. “If people crossed the line, if people involved in that activity violated the criminal law they will be charged.”
“And I’ve said there are going to be developments, significant developments, before the election,” Barr said. “But we’re not doing this on the election schedule. We’re aware of the election. We’re not going to do anything inappropriate before the election.”
An unnamed official outed Clinesmith last month during an interview with Fox News, telling the network that he, along with fired FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok, was in on a plot to conspire against the Trump campaign.
“Clinesmith, the FISA forger and his trusted sidekick, Strzok, attempted to make good on their promise to prevent Trump from winning,” the official said.
“A scam briefing from a scam crew of miscreants at the FBI,” the official added regarding an intelligence briefing provided to the then-GOP nominee Trump and campaign officials in August 2016.
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