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DOJ Calls for Prison Sentence for Ex-FBI Attorney Clinesmith Who Altered Email in FISA Request

Former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith.

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department is seeking a prison sentence for the former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty in August to altering an email used to seek the continued surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Kevin Clinesmith admitted he doctored the email, which was submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA). 

Attorneys with special counsel John Durham are calling on a sentence of between two to six months, saying in a court filing that the case “filed public disgust of the FBI and entire” FISA program, The Washington Post reports.

“An attorney — particularly an attorney in the FBI’s Office of General Counsel — is the last person that FBI agents or this Court should expect to create a false document,” prosecutors Anthony Scarpelli and Neeraj N. Patel wrote. “This Court’s sentence should be designed, in part, to send a powerful message to the community that this type of conduct — falsifying information to hide facts from a court — will not be tolerated.”

Sentencing is set for Dec. 10. Clinestmith faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, but the sentencing guidelines call for zero to six months behind bars. 

Clinestmith’s attorneys are requesting probation and community service. 

“By altering a colleague’s email, he cut a corner in a job that required far better of him. He failed to live up to the FBI’s and his own high standards of conduct,” lead Clinesmith defense attorney Justin V. Shur wrote in a sentencing request.

Clinestmith’s guilty plea stems from the investigation into how the Obama administration investigated Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The email suggested that Page was not a source for the CIA, even though he had a relationship with the agency.

Clinesmith admitted he was guilty but said he believed at the time that his statement about Page was true.

Trump Slams Barr for Refusing to Make Baseless Claims about Election Fraud

President Trump and AG William Barr, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

The chummy relationship between President Trump and Attorney General William Barr has soured since the nation’s top law enforcement official contradicted the president’s baseless claims about widespread election fraud. 

At a White House event on Thursday, Trump complained about Barr, saying “He hasn’t done anything” about voter fraud, NBC News reports.

Trump declined to say whether he still has confidence in his attorney general. 

“Ask me that in a number of weeks from now,” Trump said. “They should be looking at all of this fraud. This is not civil. He thought it was civil. This is not civil. This is criminal stuff. This is very bad, criminal stuff.” 

Trump has not ruled out firing Barr, sources told NBC News

Barr told the Associated Press on Tuesday that the DOJ has found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

A few hours later, Trump met with Barr, and the lengthy meeting was “contentious,” CNN reports.

Trump and his lawyers have not shown any evidence of widespread voter fraud or irregularities, but that hasn’t stopped them from claiming the election was stolen from the president. 

FBI Agent Wounded During Shootout with Murder Suspect at Louisiana Motel

James David Hawley, 47.

By Steve Neavling

An FBI agent was wounded in a shootout with a murder and kidnapping suspect at a Louisiana motel on Wednesday. 

The suspect, James David Hawley, 47, of Cleveland, was shot dead after a coalition of local, state and federal law enforcement tried to executive a search warrant at the Pinveille motel, which lead to a several-hour standoff, NOLA.com reports.

The kidnapping victim was rescued.

The FBI agent, who was not identified, worked out of the New Orleans Field Office. The agent was hospitalized and still receiving treatment as of Wednesday afternoon. 

Hawley is accused of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend, Thoue Nichole Bronowski, 45, after killing her mother Norma Matko, 69, of Belmont County. 

Authorities said he fled to Louisiana with Bronowski. 

FBI agents from the bureau’s inspection division are investigating the shootout. 

Biden Plans to Keep FBI Director Wray If Trump Doesn’t Fire Him First

FBI Director Christopher Wray, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

President-elect Joe Biden plans to keep Christopher Wray at the helm of the FBI as long as President Trump doesn’t fire him first, The New York Times reports.

Wray was sworn in as FBI director on Sept. 28, 2017, more than four months after Trump nominated him to the position. With a 92-5 vote, the Senate confirmed the appointment on Aug. 1, 2017. 

FBI directors are appointed to 10-year terms, but Trump has hinted he may fire Wray, who has contradicted the president’s baseless claims of election fraud.

Wray replaced FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump terminated in May 2017 after refusing to pledge loyalty to the president. 

In October, the FBI agents Association called on the next president to ensure Wray is able to finish his 10-year term for the “stability, credibility and integrity” of the bureau.

Barr Contradicts Trump on Election, Saying No Evidence of Widespread Fraud

President Trump and AG William Barr, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday that the Justice Department has found no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would alter the 2020 presidential election results. 

“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” Barr told The Associated Press

Barr’s statement counters President Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud, which have led to lawsuits and hearings. 

In a statement, Trump’s lawyers Rudy Giuliani Jenna Ellis, discounted Barr’s comments.

“With all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been a semblance of a Department of Justice investigation,” they said. “We have gathered ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”

Sen. Democratic leader Chuck Schumer responded, “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”

Last month, Barr directed U.S. attorneys nationwide to investigate any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities or fraud. Since then, Barr said, no evidence has surfaced.  

Comey to Begin Teaching at Columbia University Next Month

Former FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling

Former FBI Director James Comey will begin teaching at Columbia University next month, the school announced Tuesday. 

As a leader-in-residence for the spring semester, Comey will teach a new seminar entitled “Lawyers and Leaders” at the Reuben Mark Initiative for Organizational Character and Leadership at Columbia Law School.  

“Comey’s experience represents a broadening of the Mark Initiative’s focus to include leadership of major public institutions, complementing existing offerings relating to corporations and law firms,” the university said on its website

“Very excited to return to teaching at Columbia in the new year,” Comey tweeted. 

Person Walking on Beach in Florida Discovers $1.2M Worth of Cocaine

DEA cocaine photo

By Steve Neavling

A person taking a stroll on a Central Florida beach made an unusual discovery – 70 pounds of cocaine. 

The unidentified person stumbled upon the drugs a day before Thanksgiving and alerted local law enforcement in Satellite Beach, The Miami Herald reports.

The Border Patrol seized the drugs, which agents believe have a street value of more than $1.2 million. 

DOJ Releases Sweeping Flynn Pardon, Asks Judge to Dismiss Criminal Case

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department is asking a judge to dismiss the criminal case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn after President Trump’s sweeping pardon.  

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

The Justice Department delivered to the court the formal language of the pardon order, which shields Flynn from “any and all possible offenses arising from the facts set forth … or that might arise, or be charged, claimed or asserted” in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan has been presiding over the case for the past three years and is considering the Justice Department’s request to dismiss the charges. 

Some legal experts said Trump’s pardon is one of the broadest in American history. 

“Pardons are typically directed at specific convictions or at a minimum at specific charges,” Margy Love, former pardon attorney for Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, who now leads the Collateral Consequences Resource Center, told Politico. “I can think of only one other pardon as broad as this one, extending as it does to conduct that has not yet been charged, and that is the one that President Ford granted to Richard Nixon.”

“In fact, you might say that this pardon is even broader than the Nixon pardon, which was strictly cabined by his time as president,“ Love said. “In contrast, the pardon granted to Flynn appears to extend to conduct that took place prior to Trump‘s election to the presidency, and to bear no relationship to his service to the president, before or after the election.“

Flynn, 61-year-old retired lieutenant general, is Trump’s first national security advisor and was the target of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. But he later fired his attorneys and asked to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming he was entrapped by the FBI and Justice Department.