“The point is, they spied on my campaign and got caught,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday, as his campaign referred to the “greatest crime in American history” in a statement.
Yet the five-page indictment document is limited in scope and does not allege criminal acts by anyone other than Clinesmith, nor offer evidence to support Trump’s claims that the Russia’s investigation was marred by pervasive political prejudice within the FBI. It’s clear the FBI relied on Clinesmith’s own misrepresentation as he sought to renew his watch on Trump’s former campaign aide Carter Page.
The Durham inquiry has raised concern among Democrats, who see it as a politically charged exercise intended to revive an already closed inquiry. They fear that accusations or public reports released so close to the 2020 election are scheduled to affect the November vote.
Durham, the U.S. lawyer from Connecticut, made no comment, a spokesperson said. It is not known what additional charges, if any, Durham could entail.
Durham’s work in some ways resembles a separate investigation into the Russia investigation by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice. That office concluded in a report last December that the investigation was opened for a valid reason, but it also identified significant errors and omissions in surveillance requests filed in 2016 and 2017 that targeted Page.
The Oversight Office also fired Clinesmith for possible prosecution. Specifically, the Inspector General accused Clinesmith, but not by name, of altering an email to say that Page was “not a source” for another government agency.
Page has publicly stated that he is a CIA source. According to the Inspector General’s report and impeachment documents on Friday, Clinesmith received information in June 2017 from another government agency, presumably the CIA, showing that Page had been approved as an “operational contact” between 2008 and 2013.
But when an FBI colleague followed by instant message on whether Page had ever been a government source, Clinesmith replied that Page had “never been a source,” according to court documents. When asked if he had this information in writing, the documents allege that Clinesmith modified an email he received from the other agency to add the words “and not a source” and then forwarded it .
The FBI relied on these false statements in its final surveillance request and withheld this information from Page, prosecutors say, although any relationship between Page and the government would have been material to disclose.
Clinesmith told the Inspector General he didn’t really understand Page was a source or “recruited asset” for another government agency.
“Kevin deeply regrets changing the email,” said Shur. “It was never his intention to mislead the court or his colleagues because he believed the information he relayed was correct, but Kevin understands what he did was wrong and accepts it. responsibility.”
William Barr, the United States Attorney General, appointed Durham just weeks after Special Advocate Robert Mueller concluded his nearly two-year investigation.
Mueller found important contacts during the 2016 campaign between the Russians and Trump’s associates, but did not allege any criminal conspiracy between them. He also looked at several episodes in which Trump sought to affect or thwart the Russia investigation, but failed to come to a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice.
Barr was quick to voice his skepticism about the Russia investigation, concluding that Trump had not hindered justice even though Mueller ostensibly left the matter open.