Former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, admitting that he altered an email that he used to apply for a FISA warrant against former Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page.
Clinesmith changed the 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 to be an intelligence source, when in fact Page had worked as a source for the CIA on several occasions. However, Clinesmith told the court that while he altered the email, he believed that 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 during the Wednesday hearing.
The Justice Department’s charging document alleged that Clinesmith “did willfully and knowingly make and use a false writing and document, knowing the same to contain a materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statement and entry in a matter before the jurisdiction of the executive branch and judicial branch of the Government of the United States.”
The guilty plea marks the first conviction in the probe of the Russia investigation led by U.S. Attorney for Connecticut John Durham. The hearing was overseen by Judge James Boasberg, who noted that he is also a judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court but said the position would not affect his handling of Clinesmith’s case.
Justice Depart inspector general Michael Horowitz first revealed that Clinesmith had altered the email in the report on FISA abuses by the FBI, released in December 2019. Clinesmith was involved in the Russia investigation from its early stages.