U.S. Attorney John Durham asked a federal judge on Thursday for a prison sentence of up to six months for Kevin Clinesmith, the former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to altering an email that he used to apply for a FISA warrant against former Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page.
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.
Clinesmith pleaded guilty on August 19 to changing a June 2017 email which was originally sent to him by the CIA and which he was forwarding to the FISA Court, to make it seem as though the agency did not consider Page an intelligence source, though Page had served as an “operational contact” for the agency from 2008 to 2013.
The former FBI lawyer told the court that he had altered the email, but he believed Page was not a source.
“At the time I believed the information I was providing in the email was accurate, but I am agreeing that the information I inserted into the email was not already there,” Clinesmith said.
The Justice Department office of the inspector general discovered Clinesmith’s edit during an investigation of the FBI’s FISA warrants against Page and the Crossfire Hurricane probe.
The IG found the FBI had made 17 “significant” errors and omissions in FISA warrants against Page.
The CIA had made the Crossfire Hurricane team aware of Page’s work as an “operational contact” in August 2016, according to the IG report. The agents who knew of Page’s work with the CIA failed to include that information in the initial FISA application against Page.
If the FBI had discovered that Page was a source for the CIA it would have “drastically” changed how the bureau handled the FISA applications, Clinesmith told the IG.
Clinesmith is asking for a sentence of probation with no jail time, according to a filing by his lawyers on Thursday that argues he “made a grievous mistake” and “accepts full responsibility” for his actions.
Clinesmith’s attorneys have said he “did not knowingly lie” about Page’s relationship with the CIA, though Durham argues that Clinesmith was aware of the significance of Page’s relationship with the agency and could have been led to alter the email due to “political or personal bias” against Donald Trump, after he was found to have sent text messages criticizing the president after his 2016 election win.