The first domino falls, with several more DOJ and Intelligence Officials under investigation
Former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith will plead guilty to making a false statement in the first criminal case arising from U.S. Attorney John Durham’s review of the investigation into links between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign, two sources close to the matter tell Fox News.
Clinesmith was referred for potential prosecution by the Justice Department’s inspector general’s office, which conducted its own review of the Russia investigation. Specifically, the inspector general accused Clinesmith, though not by name, of altering an email about former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page to say that he was “not a source” for another government agency. Page has said he was a source for the CIA. The DOJ relied on that assertion as it submitted a third and final renewal application in 2017 to eavesdrop on Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Clinesmith is being charged in federal court in Washington and is expected to plead guilty to one count of making a false statement, his attorney Justin Shur told The Associated Press.
Durham was appointed by Attorney General Bill Barr last year to investigate the origins of the FBI’s original Russia probe, shortly after former Special Counsel Robert Mueller completed his years-long investigation into whether his campaign colluded with the Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Durham’s timeline was focused on July 2016, when the FBI’s original Russia probe began, through the appointment of Mueller in May 2017.
Mueller’s investigation yielded no evidence of criminal conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 election, though the question of whether Trump obstructed justice was left open in the final report.
The development Friday comes amid much speculation, and even a tip-off by Barr, who said on Fox News’ “Hannity” that there would be a “development” in the investigation, teasing that it wouldn’t be “earth-shattering,” but would be “an indication that things are moving along at the proper pace as dictated by the facts in this investigation.”
“There are two different things going on,” Barr said. “I said the American people need to know what actually happened, we need to get the story of what happened in 2016 and ’17 out. That will be done.”
Barr also said that “if people crossed the line, if people involved in that activity violated criminal law, they will be charged.”
Barr touted Durham as an “independent” and “highly experienced” man, and said his investigation is “pursuing apace,” despite delays he blamed in part on the coronavirus pandemic.
By Brooke Singman. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeSingman.
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