The highly anticipated Department of Justice Inspector General report on FISA abuse directed at the Trump campaign during the 2016 election may show some findings of the FBI’s investigation were tainted by the so-called “fruit of the poisonous tree.”
The New York Times reported Friday that DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz has referred former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith to federal prosecutors for altering a document submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain a warrant to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
According to The Times, Clinesmith resigned from the FBI two months ago after being interviewed by Horowitz’s team.
In February 2018, the attorney left then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, and the IG identified him in a June 2018 report as having animus toward Trump, based on multiple negative texts about the Republican.
Lamenting Trump’s 2016 election victory, Clinesmith texted on Nov. 9, 2016, “I am so stressed about what I could have done differently,” according to the report released by Horowitz in June 2018, in which the former FBI official is identified as “FBI Attorney 2.”
The lawyer added, “Plus, my god d—ed name is all over the legal documents investigating [Trump’s] staff.”
Clinesmith further related that “the crazies won finally,” and in the context of asking whether he intended to stay in government, messaged, “viva le resistance.”
Investigative reporter Sara Carter wrote Monday that she has spoken with several sources who believe Clinesmith’s alteration of the FISA document could make all the evidence obtained thereafter as having come from the “fruit of the poisonous tree.”
“Based on what we know, Clinesmith’s tampering of documents appears to have been significant enough to have played a role in the FISA courts decision to grant a warrant to spy on an American, maybe more than one American,” a U.S. official told Carter on condition of anonymity.
“There is concern among the FBI that all the evidence will come into question, as it should — particularly the case of the ‘fruit of the poisonous tree’ that the evidence itself is tainted — if that’s true than anything gained from that evidence might also be tainted. This could be a problem for anyone who approved the FISA as well.”
The fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine renders evidence obtained illegally inadmissible in court. In other words, if the tree (the source) is tainted, so is the fruit.
Criminal defense attorney David Schoen explained to Carter if an “agent falsifies, materially alters with false information, or makes a material omission in documents relied on to authorize surveillance — and here it was to authorize the most intrusive kind of surveillance by the most secretive court in the land — then any further step in the process and any material obtained by surveillance from the point of his illegal conduct forward is arguably poisoned by the initial illegal materially false alteration or material omission.”
George Papadopolous — who pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal investigators (and was sentenced to 14 days in prison) — told Fox News on Monday that Clinesmith was the “attorney who interviewed me from the Department of Justice.”
“I know The New York Times mentioned him as some sort of low-level attorney for the DOJ, but I don’t think he was a low-level attorney,” he added.
“This individual brought an entire delegation from Washington, D.C., to interview me in February 2017, and we now know that he and some of the others who interviewed me are under criminal investigation.”
Papadopolous contended he believes the leaks to The New York Times about Horowitz’s report were timed to provide cover for the FBI activities.
“So I think the report’s not going to be as pleasant as many people think it’s going to be for the FBI,” he said. “And it’s actually going to lead probably into probably criminal prosecution that [DOJ prosecutor John] Durham is going to be taking over.”
The DOJ lawyers who interviewed me in 2017 are now under criminal investigation for fraud. As the probes expand and more of these creeps are put under the microscope, we are not only going to work on taking California back, but WE WILL bring accountability back to government!
— George Papadopoulos (@GeorgePapa19) November 25, 2019
Horowitz’s report on FISA abuse is expected to be released on Dec. 9, and he is slated to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee two days later.
Grab the popcorn: It’s time for the investigation of the investigators to enter its public phase.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.