Lloyd Billingsley, A troubling tale.
On Friday, former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith got a “slap on the wrist,” Debra Heine reports, for falsifying an email in the quest to gain a FISA warrant to spy on an American citizen, Carter Page. Clinesmith was facing a maximum five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, so twelve months probation, a $100 fine and 400 hours of community service, is indeed a slap on the wrist. Even so, it still falls short.
Carter Page might expect the judge to lecture Clinesmith about the lawyer about sullying the reputation of the FBI and DOJ, and betraying the federal government that employed him to uphold the law. None of that for District of Columbia judge James Boasberg. He opted for leniency because the allegedly remorseful Clinesmith had suffered by losing his job and “standing in the eye of a media hurricane.” It was a curious choice of words for the Obama appointee.
“Crossfire Hurricane” was the name of the FBI-DOJ covert operation against candidate and President Trump. And as it turns out, according to official sources, since 2014 Boasberg has served as the presiding judge of United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.”
That detail failed to turn up in news reports on Clinesmith’s slap on the wrist, which was much less than three to six month prison sentence sought by special counsel John Durham. After appointment by attorney general William Barr in May, 2019, Durham has failed to bring any criminal charges against major “Crossfire Hurricane” players James Comey, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and others.
With the tap on the wrist for Clinesmith, Boasberg sends the message loud and clear. The DOJ and FBI may conduct covert operations against a duly elected president of the United States, violating federal law and abusing the FISA process, and avoid all prosecution. For 74 million Trump supporters, that is bad news going forward.
FBI counterintelligence boss Peter Strzok railed against Trump supporters as a reeking pack of Walmart shoppers, and worse. FBI lawyer Lisa Page wonders if Trump will be elected, Strzok says “We’ll stop it.” President Obama wanted to know everything they were doing.
Recall the FBI entrapment of Gen. Michael Flynn, where agents wondered if their job was to get Flynn to lie. Recall the way judge Emmett Sullivan maintained the case even after the DOJ dropped it. Sullivan paid no penalty for what was clearly prosecutorial misconduct.
Like James Comey and Robert Mueller, FBI boss Christopher Wray did not attend the FBI academy. Wray is basically a politician who seems to think the FBI is another branch of government. Recall that Wray strongly objected to the term “spying” for the covert operation against candidate and President Trump.
Recall the FBI’s heavily armed pre-dawn raid on Roger Stone, and the devious actions against George Papadopoulos. As he found out, to be charged with lying to the FBI is a serious matter. As he now must understand from the Clinesmith non-sentence, lying for the FBI brings no serious penalty. The FBI liar gets a tap on the wrist from a judge who serves on the same Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court the FBI liar set out to abuse.
William Barr did concede spying against Trump, but Barr’s chosen investigator John Durham, supposedly a man of great integrity, looked the other way. Barr was also aware of 2020 election fraud but in a December 1 interview said, “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election.” The AG couldn’t have been looking very hard.
The DOJ has become the pro bono law firm of the deep state, defending bad actors in the government. The FBI has become the American KGB, off limits to oversight, ignoring government criminals, and deploying military force against the people.
During the Ruby Ridge siege of 1992, FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi shot unarmed Vicki Weaver in the head as she held her infant child. This went down during William Barr’s first stint as attorney general from 1991-1993. Barr spent two weeks organizing former attorney generals to defend Horiuchi, who already had government lawyers working on his behalf.
With Donald Trump out of office, the DOJ and FBI are free to target Trump supporters, now smeared as racists, white supremacists, Nazis and even terrorists. As Glenn Greenwald warns, the new domestic war on terror is driven by a radical expansion of the meaning of “incitement to violence,” pleas “that one work with the FBI to turn in one’s fellow citizens,” and “demands for a new system of domestic surveillance.”
In the course of that surveillance, some FBI lawyer may choose to falsify a document to make an innocent party appear guilty. As FBI lawyers learn from Kevin Clinesmith, the worst punishment they could expect is 12 months probation, a $100 fine and 400 hours of community service.
In the style of Peter Strzok, FBI bosses could now set out covertly to “stop” the election of the Biden-Harris opponent in 2024, and nobody would be the wiser. As Donald Trump likes to say, we’ll have to see what happens.