In bringing first Russiagate charge, Durham hints at other crimes
Prosecutor unveils evidence FBI knew before first FISA warrant in 2016 that Carter Page worked with CIA, wasn’t a Russia stooge, and didn’t inform court.
pygate, once derided by media and political elites as a fringe conspiracy theory, is now fact thanks to a court filing that confirms an ex-FBI lawyer who disliked President Trump falsified evidence that was used to keep surveillance against Trump associates going.
U.S. Attorney John Durham filed the felony charge Friday against Kevin Clinesmith, and the ex-FBI assistant general counsel is expected to plead guilty soon and cooperate with the ongoing investigation of the Russia investigators.
That alone is significant, since Clinesmith was witness to other controversial moments in the failed Trump-Russia collusion probe, including an operation to spy on the future president during a counterintelligence briefing in summer 2016.
But within the four-plus page criminal information filed in U.S. District Court, Durham also laid out evidence of an additional crime that could be prosecuted in the coming weeks.
The court filing notes that Clinesmith “willfully and knowingly” altered a document in June 2017 to falsely claim that Trump campaign adviser Carter Page — one of the main targets of the Russia collusion probe and identified in the court document as “Individual #1” — was not a source for the CIA, identified in the court documents as “Other Government Agency” or “OGA.” In reality, Page was a CIA asset.
The filing says Clinesmith’s misdeed caused the FBI to mislead the Justice Department and the FISA court when filing an application for the last of four surveillance warrants that targeted Page for over a year.
But Durham also reveals in the filing that the FBI Crossfire Hurricane team — led by since-fired Agent Peter Strzok — had already been told of Page’s relationship with the CIA all the way back in August 2016 and failed to tell the FISA court that essential information about Page before the three prior FISA warrants were approved.
Such a failure is known as a material omission because the FBI was claiming they believed Page was an agent of Russia when in fact he was an asset of the U.S. government helping to inform on Russian intelligence targets. In other words, had the FBI not omitted the truth, the judges would have known before they approved even the first FISA warrant that Page was a CIA-handled source, not a Russian stooge.
Here’s how Durham worded the account:
“On Aug 17, 2016, prior to the approval of FISA #1, the OGA (CIA) provided certain members of the Crossfire Hurricane team a memorandum indicating that Individual #1 (Page) had been approved as an operational contact for the OGA (CIA) from 2008 to 2013 and detailing information that Individual #1 (Page) had provided to the OGA (CIA) concerning Individual #1’s prior contacts with certain Russian intelligence officers. The first three FISA applications did not include Individual #1’s history or status with the OGA (CIA).”
Several experts said Durham’s inclusion of the earlier notification signals he has concerns others may also have been involved in deceiving the court.