Ex-FBI lawyer gets 1-year probation for altering email in Trump campaign probe
A former FBI lawyer on Friday was sentenced to one year of probation after pleading guilty to doctoring an email that was used to help justify surveillance on an adviser to former President Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Kevin Clinesmith had pleaded guilty to one charge of making a false statement in a case brought by John Durham, the special counsel appointed by the Trump administration to investigate the origins of the Department of Justice’s investigation into the 2016 campaign.
Judge James Boasberg, who was appointed by former President Obama, also ordered Clinesmith to complete 400 hours of community service.
Clinesmith admitted to altering an email exchange about whether Carter Page, a onetime foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, had been a source for the CIA — information that was used in an application to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for permission to wiretap Page.
The case against Clinesmith is the only criminal charge that has been brought as a result of Durham’s ongoing investigation, which has so far failed to prove a wide-ranging political conspiracy against the Trump campaign as the former president had repeatedly alleged.
Clinesmith has said that his actions were not motivated by bias against Trump, and the Justice Department’s inspector general found that the investigation into potential Russian involvement with Trump’s campaign was not politically motivated.
Durham’s office had been seeking a sentence of up to six months in prison for Clinesmith, citing his two-week suspension in 2018 for sending text messages with a colleague that expressed political views disparaging Trump.
“Society expects and requires better from attorneys and officers of the Court, who take the oath to uphold the law and comply with their professional and ethical obligations,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo last month. “These consequences do not negate the need for a sentence of imprisonment to reflect the seriousness of his offense, to promote respect for the law, and to provide adequate general deterrence.”
Boasberg’s sentence is in line with the recommendation from Clinesmith’s lawyers, who had argued that the ex-FBI official’s action was a misguided effort to save time and provide clarity for his colleagues.
“Kevin Clinesmith made a grievous mistake,” his lawyers said in a court filing last month. “By altering a colleague’s email, he cut a corner in a job that required far better of him. He failed to live up to the FBI’s and his own high standards of conduct. And he committed a crime. Kevin pled guilty and accepts full responsibility. He deeply regrets his conduct and apologizes to all those who have been affected — including his former colleagues, the FBI, the DOJ, the Court, the public, and his family.”
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