Former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith was charged today and will reportedly plead guilty to falsifying government records in pursuit of authority to secretly spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page in 2017. The charge and plea is a significant development in U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the FBI’s errant multi-year Russia collusion probe. Documents recently declassified and released by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), reveal Clinesmith was also involved in approving covert FBI operations to hijack intelligence briefings to surreptitiously gather information on Trump campaign officials.
Grassley, a former chairman and senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and longtime skeptic of the FBI’s collusion probe targeting the Trump campaign and administration, made the following statement:
“Those who orchestrated, enabled and amplified the bogus Russia collusion saga must face a reckoning, and those who violated the law must face justice. Thanks to recent declassifications, we now know that the same FBI lawyer who doctored evidence to push for spying authority on Trump’s campaign was also intimately involved in plans to co-opt intel briefings to spy on Trump himself. Today, he is being held to account.
“U.S. Attorney John Durham’s announcement today offers the latest window into how all this started. For the good of our nation, his team must continue to provide transparency into this multi-year, multi-million-dollar debacle,” Grassley said.
Grassley and Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, first raised concerns last April about text messages between former FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page in which they discuss using FBI briefings with the Trump transition team to develop relationships and gather information. The lawmakers later sought information about FBI policies regarding the use of security briefings as covert operations ahead of the 2020 presidential elections. A December 2019 Justice Department inspector general report validated the lawmakers’ concerns, and documents recently provided to the lawmakers highlight Strzok’s and Clinesmith’s role in approving the operations. The IG report called on the FBI to develop policies to safeguard against misuse of security briefings. That same report revealed Clinesmith’s role in manipulating emails to conceal Carter Page’s prior cooperation with the CIA during the FBI’s application to spy on him.