Kevin ( “Viva la Resistance!”) Clinesmith is the convicted felon who radically altered a document in the Trump-Russia investigation to justify spying on an American citizen. At the time, Clinesmith was an assistant general counsel at the FBI.
In order to receive court approval for surveillance of Carter Page, Clinesmith took a document that said Page WAS a CIA source and altered it say Page WAS NOT a CIA source. He then submitted the fake document to the federal court to support obtaining a FISA warrant that would enable the FBI to spy not just on Page but quite possibly on the Trump campaign for which he had worked.
It is hard to imagine a more blatant fraud on the court. Perpetuating that fraud should have meant an end to Clinesmith’s legal career or at least a lengthy cessation of it.
However, fraud on the court in service of “La Resistance” to Donald Trump doesn’t bother the left-wing D.C. bar one bit. It has restored Clinesmith as a member in “good standing” of the District of Columbia Bar Association — this despite the fact that he has yet to finish serving out his probation as a convicted felon.
Paul Sperry of RealClearInvestigations has the nauseating details. He writes:
Clinesmith was sentenced to 12 months probation last January. But the D.C. Bar did not seek his disbarment, as is customary after lawyers are convicted of serious crimes involving the administration of justice. In this case, it did not even initiate disciplinary proceedings against him until February. . .five months after he pleaded guilty and four days after RealClearInvestigations first reported he had not been disciplined.
After the negative publicity, the bar temporarily suspended Clinesmith pending a review and hearing. Then in September, the court that oversees the bar and imposes sanctions agreed with its recommendation to let Clinesmith off suspension with time served; the bar, in turn, restored his status to “active member” in “good standing.”
What did the D.C. Bar do by way of due diligence before restoring Clinesmith as an active member in good standing? Not much.
[R]ecords indicate the bar did not check with his probation officer to see if he had violated the terms of his sentence or if he had completed the community service requirement of volunteering 400 hours. . . .
From the records, it also appears bar officials did not consult with the FBI’s Inspection Division, which has been debriefing Clinesmith to determine if he was involved in any other surveillance abuses tied to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants, in addition to the one used against Page. Clinesmith’s cooperation was one of the conditions of the plea deal he struck with Special Counsel John Durham. If he fails to fully cooperate, including turning over any relevant materials or records in his possession, he could be subject to perjury or obstruction charges.
By any objective standard, Clinesmith is a poor candidate for such favorable treatment by the D.C. bar. According to Sperry:
Clinesmith apparently broke the bar’s rule requiring reporting his guilty plea “promptly” to the court — within 10 days of entering it — and failed to do so for five months, reveal transcripts of a July disciplinary hearing obtained by RCI.
The D.C. bar’s treatment of Clinesmith contrasts with that of the Michigan bar association which, I assume, is pretty liberal itself:
The Michigan Bar, where [Clinesmith] is also licensed, automatically suspended him the day he pleaded guilty. And on Sept. 30, records show, the Michigan Bar’s attorney discipline board suspended Clinesmith for two years, from the date of his guilty plea through Aug. 19, 2022, and fined him $1,037.
“[T]he panel found that respondent engaged in conduct that was prejudicial to the proper administration of justice [and] exposed the legal profession or the courts to obloquy, contempt, censure or reproach,” the board ruled against Clinesmith, adding that his misconduct “was contrary to justice, ethics, honesty or good morals; violated the standards or rules of professional conduct adopted by the Supreme Court; and violated a criminal law of the United States.”
Sperry notes that bars normally apply what’s called “reciprocal discipline” for unethical attorneys licensed in their jurisdictions. But in Clinesmith’s case, the D.C. bar ignored what its Michigan counterpart did and decided to go much easier on him.
It couldn’t be clearer that Clinesmith got off easy because his felony was an attempt to injure Donald Trump. As one longstanding D.C. bar member with direct knowledge of Clinesmith’s case before the bar told Sperry:
The District of Columbia is a very liberal bar. Basically, they went light on the him because he’s also a Democrat who hated Trump.
I wrote about the raw and mindless partisanship of past D.C. bar presidents in this post. These bar grandees attacked lawyers who presented claims that voter fraud deprived Donald Trump of a substantial number of votes in key states. In their view, these lawyers undermined democracy.
If the D.C. bar really cared about democracy, it would take a much dimmer view of a felon who falsified a document for the purpose of undermining the campaign of the presidential nominee of one of our two major political parties.