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Former U.S. attorney Andy McCarthy would not have accepted the guilty plea from former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, saying his story is “preposterous.”
McCarthy weighed in on Clinesmith pleading guilty in federal court on Wednesday to making a false statement in a criminal case coming from Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation of the Russia probe. McCarthy told Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer that the plea is “more like the beginning than the end” of Durham’s review.
(Source: Fox News)
“I have a hard time with this because basically what he [Clinesmith] says in his allocution, which is where you explain to the judge what you did that makes you guilty, he said that he altered the document but he didn’t intend to deceive anyone,” McCarthy said on “Bill Hemmer Reports” Wednesday.
“And a false statement under federal law, it’s not enough that you know you are saying something that’s false, it’s got to be willful which means you have to have an intention to deceive, an intention to violate the law,” he added.
Clinesmith, who was part of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team and the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, admitted Wednesday that he had altered an email related to former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Ex-FBI lawyer pleads guilty in federal court to making false statement against Carter Page https://t.co/VlTjKraaRJ
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) August 19, 2020
“You have to prove intent in every criminal case and willfulness is the highest level of intent,” McCarthy explained to Hemmer.
Clinesmith was asked during the hearing to confirm that he “intentionally altered an email, and added language” that Page was “not a source … and you knew that statement was in fact not true.”
“At the time I thought the information I was providing was accurate, but I am agreeing the information I inserted was not originally there, and I inserted the information,” the former FBI lawyer had replied.
Hemmer attempted to clarify the impact in his discussion with McCarthy.
“So if he doesn’t change the wording on the FISA document, you never get the warrant for Carter Page. Correct?” the Fox News anchor asked.
“That’s right,” McCarthy responded.
“What he is trying to do Bill is, he wants to be able to say he didn’t mean to deceive the court, and I think the story is preposterous,” the former federal prosecutor added.
“But the only way that what he said makes sense is he wants to be able to say, ‘Yeah, I gave the agent a tampered document, but I thought what was in it, which I knew he was going to relay to the court, was accurate. I’m sorry it was wrong, but I didn’t mean to deceive anyone,'” McCarthy said.
“You are saying this is a molehill. If I’m reading you correctly, is this as good as John Durham can get?” Hemmer asked.
“Well, no. You don’t win the game in the first inning,” McCarthy replied.
“I think that it’s important that you have somebody who made a false statement, who’s pled guilty,” he added. “I think the crime is more serious than the defendant articulated it to be, but I think it’s good that Durham prosecuted it, and I think this is more like the beginning than the end.”
McCarthy noted that comments by Attorney General William Barr, who recently said that the latest development in Durham’s probe would not be “earth-shattering,” indicate that “they understand that in the greater scheme of things, [Clinesmith’s] one of the lower-ranking players.”
“There is a lot that went on here that’s very disturbing,” McCarthy said, adding that one “interesting but unreported” element to the story is the fact that the warrant was given to the court by the Mueller investigation.
” It was on Mueller’s watch that this all went on,” he said.
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