Ex-FBI Lawyer to Plead Guilty to Doctoring Email in Russia Probe of Trump Campaign

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
Connecticut’s U.S. Attorney John Durham.  (U.S. Department of Justice via AP)

Former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith is expected to plead guilty on Wednesday in federal court to falsifying a document as part of the bureau’s early-stage probe into whether President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with the Russian government.

Clinesmith is the first person criminally charged in an investigation by John Durham, a federal prosecutor tapped to probe mistakes the FBI made when it sought a warrant to conduct surveillance on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

He will appear for a virtual hearing at 1 p.m. in the District Court in Washington.

Clinesmith is accused of doctoring a CIA email the FBI used in 2017 when it applied to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to renew its application for a secret wiretap to monitor Page.

In an August 2016 email, the CIA advised that Page, who is referenced in court documents as “Individual #1,” had been approved as an “operational contact” from 2008 to 2013.

When Clinesmith was later asked to confirm this information, he doctored a follow-up email from the CIA to make it appear as though Page was not an agency source.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz uncovered the doctored email and in December released a scathing report documenting 17 “basic and fundamental” errors and omissions in FBI surveillance warrant applications.

Trump’s Republican allies have repeatedly pointed to that report as evidence of a wider conspiracy by “deep state” government actors to undermine Trump. There was no indication of a broad conspiracy in the charging documents filed against Clinesmith.

Justin Shur, Clinesmith’s attorney, previously told Reuters his client regrets his actions.

“It was never his intent to mislead the court or his colleagues as he believed the information he relayed was accurate. But Kevin understands what he did was wrong,” Shur said.