Yesterday was sort of a strange media day. It began with CNN dropping a late-in-the-day “bombshell” based on a leak from the upcoming Department of Justice IG report that claimed an FBI official was facing possible criminal charges for altering the FISA warrant application on, we believe, Carter Page in late 2016. The initial report implied that the person involved was fairly senior which led to speculation that Peter Strzok would soon get a chance to hone his romantic skills inside a federal prison. But then CNN ignored its own exclusive on air until hours later.
The Washington Post was next with a report which gave much more detail:
The person under scrutiny has not been identified but is not a high-ranking official — the worked beneath former deputy assistant director Peter Strzok, according to people familiar with the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss material that has not yet been made public.
There was sudden mystery edit and this is how it now reads:
The person under scrutiny is a low-level FBI lawyer who has since been forced out of the agency, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss material that has not yet been made public. They declined to identify the lawyer.
Two additional authors were added to the byline in what looks like an attempt to hide the edit by trying to imply that it was rewritten because of the additional reportage of two colleagues. I don’t know what the did contribute but if their names were added simply as a subterfuge, then this is a distinct violation of basic ethical principles…of course, this is the Washington Post and that is sort of baked in by now.
But what is obvious is that what they are trying to hide is that the person worked for Strzok and what they gave up was the fact that he is a lawyer who has since been forced out of the FBI.
In a very short period of time, the internet fingered the culprit:
3) Kevin Clinesmith was Strzok's lead analyst during the Mid Year Event (MYE) Clinton investigation. pic.twitter.com/n0jiOZENNL
— TheLastRefuge (@TheLastRefuge2) November 22, 2019
Today the New York Times made it official
Investigators for the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, uncovered errors and omissions in documents related to the wiretapping of a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page — including that a low-level lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, altered an email that officials used to prepare to seek court approval to renew the wiretap, the people said.
Mr. Horowitz referred his findings about Mr. Clinesmith to prosecutors for a potential criminal charge. Mr. Clinesmith left the Russia investigation in February 2018 after the inspector general identified him as one of a handful of F.B.I. officials who expressed animus toward Mr. Trump in text messages and resigned about two months ago, after the inspector general’s team interviewed him.
While everyone is contorting themselves to convince us how low level this guy is, last year’s IG report called him the “primary FBI attorney” on the Russia Hoax from 2017 through him being fired when his text messages surfaced. In the IG report he is called FBI Lawyer 2 and is famous for such bon mots as
“I am just devastated. I can’t wait until I can leave and just shut off the world for the next four days.”
“I just can’t imagine the systematic disassembly of the progress we have made over the last 8 years. The ACA is gone. Who knows if the rhetoric about deporting people, walls, and crap is true.”
“Also, Pence is stupid.”
“Viva le restistence.”
Obviously nothing at all to see here. Just the senior FBI lawyer on the Russia Hoax falsifying documents to justify a FISA warrant on a guy who was not found by Robert Mueller to have any real connection to anyone in power in Russia or to Russia intelligence services or to have operated on their behalf, but who was in communications with people within the Trump campaign and transition team and that is significant because FISA surveillance contains a “two hop” rule:
[N]ot only is a FISA subject’s electronic communications (all types, not just telephone) subject to intercept, but so are means of communication of everyone they communicate with and everyone those people communicate with. So Carter Page talking to, say Paul Manfort, talking to Donald Trump make the surveillance of Donald Trump’s phone and email completely legit.