Top Republicans are outraged after former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith received probation and no prison time after pleading guilty to making a false statement to a Special Counsel appointed by the Justice Department (DOJ) under former President Donald Trump to investigate the origins of the Russia probe.
“This punishment trivializes what I believe to be a stunning breach of duty to the Court and to the American people,” Sen. Lindsey Graham wrote Friday on Twitter.
Clinesmith was sentenced to 12 months probation and 400 hours of community service Friday after copping to altering an email about former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page to say that he was “not a source” for another government agency when Page said he was working for the CIA.
The email was used to bolster an application under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), giving the FBI permission to eavesdrop on Page as part of a broader effort to prove the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
“They clearly altered documents and withheld exculpatory information from the FISA Court to continue a false narrative against an American citizen: Carter Page,” Graham said. “This sentence will only further erode the American people’s confidence in DOJ and FBI, after they took the law into their own hands.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-IA, expressed similar anger about the sentence.
“Very rare that dept of ‘JUST US’ wld [sic] recommend jail time 4 one of their own But they did 4 Clinesmith former FBI attorney who falsified paperwork 2spy [sic] on Trump campaign+prop up phony collusion probe+violate civil liberties of Carter Page Outrageous DC judge gave NO prison time,” he wrote.
Clinesmith told the court on Friday he was “deeply ashamed” and regretted his actions.
U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia James Boasberg at sentencing erred on the side of leniency, saying that Clinesmith had suffered by losing his job and standing in the eye of a media hurricane.
After Special Counsel Robert Mueller closed the lengthy investigation into Trump, then-Attorney General William Barr appointed another Special Counsel — John Durham — to look into the origins of Mueller’s probe.
Clinesmith is the first and only criminal charge thus far stemming from Durham’s investigation, which began in May 2019.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.
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