Ex-FBI lawyer Clinesmith pleads guilty, part of Durham probe into fed's Russia investigation

The guilty plea marks the first current or former official to be charged in the special Justice Department review

Updated: August 19, 2020 - 6:33pm

An ex-FBI lawyer pleaded guilty Wednesday to altering a document in connection with the federal government’s secret surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser – becoming the first current or former official to be charged in a special Justice Department review of the probe into possible collusion between Russia and the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. 

The lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, pleaded guilty to a single false statement charge, admitting that he doctored an email that the FBI relied on as it sought court approval to eavesdrop on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in 2017, according to the Associated Press. 

Clinesmith was prosecuted and charged as part of the investigation initiated by Attorney General William Barr, who has appointed John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to scrutinize decisions made by officials during that probe.

Clinesmith, who resigned from the FBI before an internal disciplinary process was completed, faces a maximum six months in prison, according to sentencing guidelines.

He was charged Friday, in documents that show Clinesmith altered the email from another government agency to say that Page was “not a source” for that agency.

Page has publicly said that he had worked as a source for the CIA.

The FBI relied on Clinesmith’s representation in the email when it applied to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to renew its secret surveillance of Page on suspicions that he was a potential Russian agent, the wire service also reports.