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Ex-FBI lawyer who doctored email in Russia hoax investigation sentenced to probation

Ex-FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith was sentenced to 12 months probation and 400 hours of community service Friday after admitting to doctoring an email that other officials relied upon to justify secret surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser during the Russia hoax investigation. 

In August, Clinesmith pleaded guilty to “one count of making a false statement within both the jurisdiction of the executive branch and judicial branch of the U.S. government, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000,” Fox News reports. 

Though prosecutors asked that Clinesmith spend several months in prison for his crimes, U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia James Boasberg said Clinesmith had suffered enough after losing his job and being the center of media attention. 

“[He] lost his job, and his government service is what has given his life much of its meaning,” Boasberg said Friday. “He was also earning $150,000 a year and who knows where the earnings go now. He may be disbarred or suspended from the practice of law, you may never be able to work in the national security field again. These are substantial penalties.” 

“What is more, he went from being an obscure career government lawyer to standing in the eye of a media hurricane,” he added. “He has been threatened, vilified, and abused on a nationwide scale.” 

The inspector general accused Clinesmith of altering an email about former campaign adviser Carter Page to say that he was “not a source” for another government agency even though Page was a source for the CIA. 

The Justice Department’s charging document stated 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 filing said an official took Clinesmith’s altered email and relied on it when signing and submitting the FISA application to eavesdrop on Page. 

Simply put, here is what happened: Clinesmith was an FBI attorney assisting investigators on the Russia hoax investigation, and when asked to clarify whether Carter Page was ever a source for the CIA, he altered an email to say “not a ‘source.’” This matters because the FBI – with approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – had been surveilling Page as a possible agent for a foreign government, and was applying for permission to continue that surveillance. 

As a result of Clinemith’s actions, during the hearing, Page said he had been “harassed on the street and while riding the D.C. Metro, and that he was called a ‘traitor’ after the surveillance of him was publicly disclosed and he was cast in media reports as a possible Russian asset,” the Washington Post reports. 

During his court hearing, Clinesmith said that he was “deeply ashamed” of his actions. 

“Altering the email has forever changed the course of my life,” Clinesmith said. “I have lost the means to provide for my growing family…lost the ability to give back to my nation…the shame and remorse will stay with me forever.”