FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who lied on Carter Page FISA warrant, may get a slap on wrist
The comparison of the treatment General Flynn received from Special Counsel Mueller and what FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith is receiving from Special Counsel Durham is nauseating. General Flynn was bullied, bankrupted, and threatened with persecution of his son so badly that he signed a false confession to a nonexistent crime. And until his presidential clemency, Judge Sullivan continued the abuse.
Clinesmith, in contrast, pleaded guilty to altering an email so as to obtain an extension of the FISA warrant illegitimately obtained to electronically monitor not just Carter Page's emails, phone calls, and text messages, but those of everyone he communicated with (i.e., the Trump campaign). One does not alter an email submitted as evidence to court by mistake; it is a willful act of deception.
But now comes news that Durham is asking only for a sentence of a few months, at most, for an officer of the court who knowingly lied to the court. According to National Review:
In a court filing on Thursday, Durham asked the judge to sentence Clinesmith to a jail term "between the middle and upper end" of the recommended sentence for the crime of making false statements in writing.
The New York Post provides context:
The disgraced attorney faces up to five years in prison, though sentencing guidelines reportedly call for a maximum of six months behind bars.
Clinesmith, via his lawyers, is asking for probation and claiming that his wife's pregnancy merits excusing him from actual jail time. Via the NYP:
Clinesmith's legal team argued in court papers that he "cut a corner" because he was overworked and "exhausted," Politico reports.
"In short, when Kevin altered the email in June 2017, he was spread thin and exhausted at work and in his personal life," his legal team said in a filing.
US District Judge James Boasberg is expected to hand down Clinesmith's sentence on Thursday.
Judge Boasberg sits on the FISA Court as well, and I wonder how he feels about being lied to. My previous understanding has been that judges detest being lied to, seeing it as an attack on the ability of the justice system to function. For an officer of the court to engage in knowing lies is even worse, or so it seems to this layman.
The only excuse for any leniency at all to Clinesmith would be if he is cooperating with Special Counsel Durham. Yet no mention is made of this.
Mark Wauck of Meaning in History, a retired FBI special agent with a background in counterintelligence, has a lengthy discussion of the case and argues against a highly disturbing article at RedState telling people like me to "get over it" — that Clinesmith was not part of a Russia Hoax conspiracy. The author of the RedState article goes by the pen name of Shipwreckedcrew and is an experienced former federal prosecutor whose views I usually find well worth considering. Mark makes a strong case based on his extensive experience that Clinesmith was far from acting alone.
Something odd is going on with all of this, but I don't know what it is. Is it possible that Clinesmith has made a deal implicating higher-ups, but that it is not reflected in the court documents available to the public? That sounds like a bit of a fantasy to me, even though it would be my own deepest wish.
The idea that a rogue official complicit in lying to a court to spy on a presidential campaign would get off with probation is repulsive. I also don't know if Clinesmith will be permanently disbarred. A lawyer who lies to a court certainly can't be trusted as an officer of the court, but I have seen nothing to indicate with certainty that Clinesmith will lose the ability to practice law.