Real Coups and Fake Ones
New revelations in the Crossfire Hurricane case show that FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith didn't act alone.
Yesterday we learned that the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, will open an investigation into whether Donald Trump’s DOJ “engaged in an improper attempt” to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.
Democrats have been hyperventilating about this non-story for some time now, with some going so far as to say the Trump administration’s efforts amounted to “an attempted coup.”
Got that? In leftist parlance, any effort toward uncovering the truth about a deeply flawed election is “an attempted coup.”
Speaking of attempted coups, though, a couple of real ones took place during the Trump years. As our Mark Alexander has pointed out, both involved the use of deep-state operatives within the FBI and CIA in order to remove Trump from office or, at the very least, cripple his “America First” agenda. One of these coup attempts came via a phony impeachment, while the other came via the Obama administration’s willful spying on the Trump campaign under the false pretense of it having colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election. And Obama’s fingerprints were all over that one.
Remarkably, more than four years after the fact, the specific details of this so-called Spygate coup are still being uncovered. But we gained additional insight into the Obama administration’s corruption when, during his last days in office, President Trump ordered the release of a trove of heretofore classified documents.
Those documents, as we noted last week, put to rest any claims that the Obama administration wasn’t spying on the Trump campaign. It was spying, and the FBI’s tasking instructions to longtime FBI informant Stefan Halper, which told him to infiltrate the Trump campaign by posing as someone who wanted to work for the GOP nominee, confirm this beyond a shadow of doubt. After all, a person who secretly collects and reports information on the activities, movements, and plans of an enemy or competitor is the very definition of a spy.
As for the latest revelations, which have come via newly submitted court filings from Special Counsel John Durham on behalf of former Trump campaign associate Carter Page, we learn what we long suspected: that mid-level FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, a Trump hater who doctored an email to hide the fact that Page had been a CIA source and therefore not a Russian asset, didn’t doctor that email in a vacuum.
Others above Clinesmith in the Obama DOJ also knew Page wasn’t working for the Russians. But they kept that information from the FISA court in order to secure a warrant for spying on him — and thus spying on the entire Trump team.
As we wrote back in August, “Clinesmith was a soldier, a guy at the ground level who did the dirty work. He answered to captains such as Peter Strzok and Andrew McCabe, who in turn took orders from an underboss, former FBI Director James Comey. And the bosses? The untouchables? The ones with the cutouts to give them plausible deniability? That would be Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton.”
So far, Clinesmith is the only Obama-era crook to have faced even a modicum of justice, having pleaded guilty last year to a single count of making false statements. But these new court filings make clear that he didn’t do this alone. (As part of his plea deal, Clinesmith agreed to “be personally debriefed” about “FISA matters and any information he possesses.”)
As Paul Sperry of RealClearInvestigations reports, “For the past year, defenders of the FBI have consistently downplayed the significance of [Clinesmith’s crime as] a rare lapse in judgment by an overworked bureaucrat. It was not, his apologists say, part of any broader conspiracy to conceal exculpatory information from surveillance court judges. … But such explanations are challenged by new revelations from court papers filed in the case, which some civil libertarians call the most egregious violation and abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) since it was enacted more than 40 years ago.”
Sperry continues, “Several officials within [Clinesmith’s] tightly compartmentalized chain-of-command — including former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe [who actually hired Clinesmith], his counselor Lisa Page and counterintelligence chief Peter Strzok — learned of Page’s role with the CIA before they first sought to wiretap him during the 2016 presidential campaign. The CIA had confirmed his role two months earlier in an August 2016 memo it sent to the FBI. And Page’s status as a CIA contact had been documented in the FBI’s own electronic files going back to 2009.”
Yet while all of these Trump haters withheld this crucial information from the FISA court, only the lowly Clinesmith has been fingered. So far.
“It’s a very brazen move doctoring email from another agency; it’s unlikely Clinesmith would have been so brazen if he didn’t know he had protection from above,” said former FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker, who served in the FBI’s legal counsel division for two years and is familiar with the role of attorneys like Clinesmith in such national security investigations. “It makes perfect sense from Clinesmith’s guilty plea that McCabe is in legal jeopardy.”
And if McCabe is in legal jeopardy, perhaps others above him are as well.
Keep digging, John Durham. Keep digging.