Clinton campaign lawyer sought to 'use' FBI, prosecutor says
A prosecutor says a lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign who is charged with lying to the FBI early in the Trump-Russia probe sought to “use and manipulate” federal law enforcement to create an “October surprise” in the final weeks of the presidential race.
Ex-FBI lawyer given probation for Russia probe actions
A former FBI lawyer was sentenced to probation for altering a document the Justice Department relied on during its surveillance of a Donald Trump aide during the Russia investigation. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)WASHINGTON – A former FBI lawyer was sentenced to probation on Friday for altering an email the Justice Department relied on in its surveillance of an aide to President Donald Trump during the Russia investigation. The Russia investigation resulted in criminal charges against six Trump associates, but did not find sufficient evidence that Trump campaign associates had illegally coordinated with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Even so, that aspect of the Russia investigation was a small piece of the much broader probe. Prosecutors contend that explanation made no sense and, in any event, was not a justification for altering the email.
Ex-FBI lawyer who altered Russia probe email seeks probation
Kevin Clinesmith admitted in August 2020 to having altered an email used in support of an FBI application to monitor the communications of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. Kevin Clinesmith admitted in August to having altered an email that was being used in support of an FBI application to monitor the communications of a former Trump campaign aide, Carter Page. Clinesmith's lawyers said that although he believed the information he wrote was accurate, he knowingly doctored the email by stating that Page was “not a source” for the CIA. “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,” his lawyers wrote.
Barr's special counsel move could tie up his successor
WASHINGTON – Outgoing Attorney General William Barr's decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate the handling of the Russia probe ensures his successor won't have an easy transition. But the maneuvering over the special counsel is especially significant because it saddles Democrats with an investigation that they've derided as tainted. A special counsel can only be dismissed for cause. The Biden transition did not respond to a request for comment on the special counsel appointment. But Barr's decision could influence whom the president-elect puts forth as a nominee for attorney general.
Ex-Trump campaign aide sues over Russia probe surveillance
“Since not a single proven fact ever established complicity with Russia involving Dr. Page, there never was probable cause to seek or obtain the FISA Warrants targeting him on this basis,” the lawsuit says, using the acronym for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The lawsuit to some extent echoes the conclusions of a Justice Department inspector general report that found significant problems with the four applications. In the complaint, Page accuses the FBI of relying excessively for information on Christopher Steele, a former British spy whose research during the 2016 campaign into Donald Trump's ties to Russia was funded by Democrats. The suit names as defendants the FBI and the Justice Department, as well as former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and additional officials who were involved in the Russia investigation.
GOP presses ahead after election with Russia probe review
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., questions former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, on a probe of the FBI's Russia investigation. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump may have lost his bid for reelection, but that hasn’t stopped Senate Republicans from pressing forward with their politically charged probe of the FBI’s Russia investigation. “This is a last ditch, desperate undertaking to deal with President Trump’s grievances about that election,” Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said of the hearing. Most of the criticism of the Russia investigation has centered on flaws in applications to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. Even so, a Justice Department inspector general report from last year concluded that the Russia investigation was opened for a valid and legitimate purpose.
Job on the line, Wray threads needle on controversial issues
FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a press conference at the Department of Justice, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, in Washington. (Jim Watson via AP)WASHINGTON – Less than four years into his 10-year term, FBI Director Christopher Wray’s future in the job is decidedly uncertain heading into the presidential election. President Donald Trump has been escalating his rhetoric against Wray, angry over his public statements on issues like antifa, voting fraud and Russian election interference. Wray's future is seen as uncertain because Trump has already fired one FBI director and has repeatedly lashed out at Wray. If he wins, he could seek an FBI director more willing to back his political agenda.
How a probe of Trump-Russia ties turned into a GOP rally cry
Yet in the 2020 campaign, Democrats are largely ignoring the Russia probe. While some of the revelations from the steady drip of newly declassified documents are serious, they do not undercut the reasons the Russia probe was launched or its principal findings. Meanwhile, Attorney General William Barr has appointed a prosecutor to investigate the origins of the Russia probe. Meanwhile, attacking the Russia probe is a core part of Trump's campaign. Those attacks on the Russia probe may not win over many undecided voters.
Barr tightens rules on surveillance of political candidates
WASHINGTON The Justice Department announced new restrictions Tuesday for conducting any national security surveillance of candidates for federal office or their staff members and advisers. FBI Director Chris Wray has ordered more than 40 corrective actions after the Justice Department inspector general found major errors and omissions in surveillance applications targeting a former Trump aide during the Russia probe. We did not identify any Department or FBI policy that applied to this decision and therefore determined that the decision was a judgment call that Department and FBI policy leaves to the discretion of FBI officials, the report stated. It is imperative that the Justice Department make accurate and complete representations" when applying for surveillance warrants, Barr wrote. When those activities involve federal elected officials, federal political candidates, or their respective staff members, the Department must be especially vigilant, he added.
Ex-FBI lawyer to plead guilty in Durham's Trump-Russia probe
WASHINGTON A former FBI lawyer will plead guilty to making a false statement in the first criminal case arising from U.S. Attorney John Durham's investigation into the probe of ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign. The investigation has proceeded alongside a parallel effort by Senate Republicans to discredit the Russia probe and as Attorney General William Barr has escalated his own criticism of the FBI's probe. Clinesmith was referred for potential prosecution by the department's inspector general's office, which conducted its own review of the Russia investigation. Former Attorney General Eric Holder selected him during the Obama administration to investigate the CIA's harsh interrogation techniques of terror suspects and the destruction of videotapes documenting that interrogation. Barr signaled his skepticism with the Russia investigation right away, concluding that Trump had not obstructed justice even though Mueller had pointedly left that question unresolved.
Raw feelings abound as Senate turns back to Russia probe
WASHINGTON WASHINGTON (AP) Two Republican-led Senate committees have launched election-year investigations into the Justice Departments Russia probe, resurrecting the issue at the urging of President Donald Trump while reigniting the partisan hostility that comes along with it. In a Senate office building next door, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved its own slate of three dozen subpoenas related to the Russia probe over strong Democratic objections. Speaking on the committees investigation, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told Johnson that I continue to be concerned that this is politically motivated even as he voted to move ahead. The president has continued to rail against the Russia probe, which he calls a hoax. Among the names on that list is Trumps Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, who was vice president when the Russia probe began.
Graham calls Rosenstein as first witness in Russia probe
WASHINGTON Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will testify next week at a Senate committee hearing on the Justice Department's Russia investigation, the panel chairman said Wednesday. The hearings are part of a broader effort by allies of President Donald Trump to call into question decisions and actions made during the Russia investigation. The Justice Department has launched multiple reviews of the Russia probe, and the Trump administration has recently declassified material aimed at casting Obama administration officials in a negative light. Rosenstein is a pivotal figure in the Russia investigation. He added: Independent law enforcement investigations, judicial review, and congressional oversight are important checks on the discretion of agents and prosecutors.
Inquiry into Russia probe carries political consequences
But that doesn't mean the investigation, led by U.S. Attorney John Durham of Connecticut, doesn't carry its own political consequences. He was named last year by Barr to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation. Durham's investigation is one of multiple inquiries the department has undertaken in connection with the FBI's probe into potential coordination between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign. In the statement, released through the Justice Department, Durham said he disagreed with the inspector general about the investigation being properly predicated. Trump is likely to seize on any modicum of questionable activity during the FBIs counterintelligence probe, which morphed into special counsel Robert Muellers Russia investigation.
Sen. Graham plans vote to subpoena Russia probe officials
The list also includes some current officials who have dealt with the probe, including Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray. The June vote would not be to subpoena the officials but to authorize Graham to do so. Aware that the top Democrat, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, would oppose the move, Graham said he would hold a vote instead. The Russia investigation began within the FBI during the 2016 election and was taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller a year later. Among the names is Trumps Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, who was vice president when the Russia probe began.