Ex-FBI Lawyer Who Forged Email in FISA Process Temporarily Suspended by DC Bar

February 2, 2021 Updated: February 2, 2021

Ex-FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith, who was recently sentenced to 12 months of probation, has been temporarily suspended from practicing law in Washington.

The D.C. Bar, the official organization responsible for licensing and disciplining attorneys in the area, indicated on its website that Clinesmith received a suspension “on an interim basis based upon his conviction of a serious crime in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.”

Clinesmith was sentenced on Jan. 29 to 12 months of probation after he pleaded guilty to falsifying an email that FBI agents relied on to obtain a secret court warrant to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

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(Screenshot D.C. Bar)

The misconduct occurred at a time when Clinesmith served as the primary FBI attorney assigned to the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation. He was tasked to probe into whether Page was a source of the CIA before the FBI applied for another warrant against the Trump associate.

Court documents alleged that the lawyer inserted the words “and not a source” into an email from a CIA liaison that described the relationship between Page and the CIA. The forgery was discovered by the Justice Department inspector general, who last year, said Clinesmith’s conduct was one of the most egregious faults among the 17 serious errors and omissions contained in the applications the FBI used to surveil Page.

Prosecutors had asked for a prison sentence for Clinesmith arguing that the forgery was “akin to identity theft” since Clinesmith effectively impersonated the CIA liaison by changing the message.

U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg in his order called Clinesmith’s conduct an “inappropriate shortcut,” but said he was convinced that the FBI attorney did not intend to lie when he added the words “not a source” to the email.

The judge added Clinesmith’s forgery damages the reputation of the court. He also ordered the lawyer to serve 400 hours of community service.

The sentence attracted widespread scrutiny for its perceived leniency. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a statement that the “punishment trivializes what I believe to be a stunning breach of duty to the Court and to the American people.”

Former House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, who previously served as a federal prosecutor, told Fox News he also did not agree with the sentence.

“I cannot think of anything more unjust than manufacturing evidence to hurt a political opponent and then lying about it,” Gowdy said, adding that he found it concerning that Clinesmith was not sentenced “a single day in prison.”

The National Legal and Policy Center, a nonprofit public interest organization that promotes ethics in public life, had previously requested Clinesmith’s disbarment in a complaint filed in September last year.

Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.

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