Is Clinesmith the loose thread whose plea and singing to the Feds unravels the whole sweater of the attempted coup? Don’t hold you’re breath, but it’s not impossible, either. From Charles Lipson at realclearpolitics.com:
News reports have downplayed the significance of former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith’s guilty plea, acknowledging he altered an official document in the government’s Trump-Russia collusion probe. There has been some coverage, mainly because it is so rare to see FBI agents charged with a felony and because it is the first tangible result of U.S. Attorney John Durham’s sprawling investigation of the investigators. But mainstream news outlets have minimized its importance. It’s only one count, they say, and it deals with a relatively minor crime by a mid-level figure.
That’s spin, and it’s wrong. This plea is like finding water seeping from the base of a dam. The problem is not one muddy puddle. The problem is that it foreshadows the dam’s failure, releasing a torrent. That’s what the Clinesmith plea portends.
What Did Clinesmith Admit?
Clinesmith acknowledges he altered an email from the CIA to the FBI, answering a question about Carter Page. Page is an American citizen and a Naval Academy graduate who spent considerable time in Russia. His time abroad raised a question for the FBI’s counter-intelligence division. Was Page a Russian agent? Or was he on our side, helping the U.S. gather intelligence about the Kremlin? The CIA would know.
The answer mattered because the FBI and Department of Justice were preparing warrants to spy on Page as a hostile foreign agent. The CIA gave them a clear answer in August 2016, before the first warrant was issued: Page was working for us. That answer was given to a still-unnamed FBI case agent, and we don’t know what he did with it. Did he show it to those preparing the warrant applications? Why else would he even ask the CIA for the information?
In 2017, after Clinesmith was tasked to the Mueller investigation, their team asked him to clarify Page’s relationship with U.S. intelligence. That’s when he took the CIA document and added a single word, “not.” The altered document said Carter Page was not a CIA asset. It was a deliberate lie.