Federal Judge James E. Boasberg, who also presides over the secret Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court (FISC), sentenced former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith to probation instead of prison as he had requested at his sentencing hearing this morning.
The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), an ethics watchdog group, filed a sentencing memorandum with the court earlier in the week calling upon the judge to incarcerate Clinesmith The government requested three-to-six month prison sentence. Instead, the judge sentenced him to community service and imposed no fine.
In an August 14, 2020, plea agreement with Special Counsel John H. Durham, who was appointed by Attorney General William Barr to investigate the origins of the 2016 Russia collusion probe known as “Crossfire Hurricane,” Clinesmith admitted that he doctored a June 15, 2017, CIA email by adding that Dr. Carter Page, “was not a source” for the CIA in his contacts with Russian sources, when in fact he was a source helping the CIA and had said so publicly. This doctored email led to the issuance of the fourth surveillance warrant against Carter Page.
The judge also allowed Dr. Page to address the court at the hearing to describe the injuries he suffered to his reputation by the illegal surveillance warrant. Dr. Page recounted how the FBI spied on his every move, and how the liberal media, including Rachel Maddow, had referred to him as a traitor. But Dr. Page recommended mercy, which the Judge cited in imposing probation.
In late 2019, both the Inspector General Michael Horowitz and the FISC subsequently blasted the FBI for its error-ridden process for obtaining surveillance warrants, including the use of the infamous and unverified “Steele Dossier.” After the 2016 election, Clinesmith texted a colleague “the crazies won finally,” and calling Vice President Mike Pence “stupid.” Asked by a colleague whether he intended to stay in government, he wrote, “viva la resistance.” Similar anti-Trump messages were made by FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Paige.
In its memorandum, NLPC argued that the judge should reject Clinesmith’s plea for probation because he has suffered enough and that his wife is expecting their first baby. Judge Amy Berman Jackson rejected a similar plea by attorney Alex van der Zaan, the first person to be sentenced by Special Counsel Mueller in 2018 for a similar crime (and whose wife also was expecting) and sentenced him to 30 days in prison and a fine. The government cited van der Zaan’s sentence in its argument to the court today.
“This was a total miscarriage of justice,” fumed NLPC Counsel Paul Kamenar who attended the hearing. “Equal justice demanded at least the same sentence for Clinesmith as was given to van der Zaan, and more, since he held a position of trust,” said Kamenar, who drafted the sentencing memorandum. NLPC also recommended that any probation include requiring Clinesmith to make a video expressing his remorse to be shown to all Department of Justice and FBI attorneys in their ethics training to act as a general deterrence.
“Hopefully, this is just the first of many prosecutions by the Special Counsel of those who abused their powers and committed criminal acts in initiating the Russia collusion probe, and hopefully with harsher results” said Peter Flaherty, Chair of NLPC.
NLPC also filed a bar complaint against Clinesmith last September seeking his disbarment. Now that he has been sentenced, the D.C. Bar is expected to move swiftly to disbar Clinesmith, but may go soft on him as did Judge Boasberg. A copy of that bar complaint along with the NLPC’s sentencing memorandum can be found at http://www.nlpc.org.
Founded in 1991, NLPC promotes ethics in public life and government accountability through research, investigation, education and legal action. NLPC also filed an ethics complaint last year against a former Mueller prosecutor with the Office of Professional Responsibility
To schedule an interview with a NLPC spokesperson, please contact Dan Rene at 202-329-8357 or firstname.lastname@example.org