FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith will soon plead guilty to a felony in federal district court after he allegedly made false statements in connection with an FBI application to surveil Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page.
The case was brought by U.S. Attorney John Durham as part of his investigation into the origins of the Russia probe – an investigation that was initiated by Attorney General Bill Barr.
Writing for Lawfare, Barbara McQuade and Chuck Rosenberg note that the statute Clinesmith will plead guilty to is the same statute Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to twice in federal court. "One element of the statute to which Clinesmith will plead guilty requires that his false statement be 'material.'... that means that his false statement had a 'natural tendency' to influence a pending matter (here, the surveillance application to the court) or was 'capable' of influencing that matter. This is typically an easy element to meet," McQuade and Rosenberg write.
"Yet while many of Flynn’s supporters—the president among them—have defended Flynn by arguing that his lies were not material, this chorus has not lifted its collective voice on behalf of Clinesmith," they continue.
Clinesmith's charges were filed as the Justice Department tries to dismiss the case against Flynn—for lack of materiality. "The department tied itself into knots to argue that Flynn’s lies were immaterial. Yet, strangely, it gives no such benefit to Clinesmith."
Read the full op-ed over at Lawfare.