Opinion: Tracy Beanz
There has been a lot of talk about the Clinesmith situation and what it means in terms of the greater Durham investigation. I am not an attorney, however, I have a fair amount to add to this. UncoverDC contributor Shipwreckedcrew is also writing a piece for us that will detail this subject.
On Thursday, August 13, Attorney General William Barr went on Sean Hannity's nightly show and told him that there would be “significant developments” in the Durham probe; specifically stating those developments would occur before the election. Then, he went on to tell us there would be a development “tomorrow” which wouldn’t be “Earth-shattering” but shows the investigation is progressing.
Kevin Clinesmith was not a low-level FBI lawyer. He was intimately involved in both the Mid Year Exam investigation into Hillary Clinton's mishandling of her email server while Secretary of State, as well as the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, and he appears in both of the reports prepared by IG Horowitz multiple times, including an admonishment for biased messages he sent about the Trump administration, some using official FBI systems.
In one of the messages, he lamented “My god damned name is all over the legal documents investigating his staff,” Clinesmith said, adding, “So, who knows if that breaks to him what he is going to do?”
When the news broke of the Clinesmith plea, I took great pains to explain to people that what we could take from it was that he wasn’t considered “significant” or “Earth Shattering”. That is the baseline we got with the Clinesmith plea arrangement, and that alone is highly significant. For some reason, it seems some people have forgotten everything that Barr had told us the day before, and many are hanging their hat on Clinesmith as “no big deal” hence the rest of Durham's investigation must be worthless too.
We got our benchmark. Barr said the development wasn’t “earth-shattering” and I take him to mean the charges against Clinesmith and the “seniority” of his position. However, I have been reading a lot lately from folks about how his “deal” doesn’t mention cooperation, etc, and lots of other very one-sided analysis, so I want to break it down for you here the way I read it.
First, let's take a look at the Statement of Offense and break that down one by one, vanilla. Please read the following:
This means that Durham has evidence that the information about Page was available before the first FISA warrant was approved. This mere sentence alone shows one of the reasons why Durham took the unprecedented step of making a statement after Inspector General Horowitz released his report on FISA Abuse. It shouldn't be understated, and is widely overlooked thus far. If you recall, Durham said the following in a very rare press release:
“I have the utmost respect for the mission of the Office of Inspector General and the comprehensive work that went into the report prepared by Mr. Horowitz and his staff. However, our investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department. Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.”
The part below means that Durham is going to prove the first three FISA warrants were obtained under false pretenses and that the FBI knew that.
Pay very close attention to the highlights in this next screenshot of the Statement of Offense.
So, when it took some days for any statement, and Clinesmith's attorneys said:
And when he was at his hearing about to accept guilt, and paused for a moment before he said:
People started freaking out. “He is getting off easy! He isn’t accepting guilt! Durham is useless! NO ONE WILL EVER GO TO JAIL!!”
A 1001 violation is a felony with a max sentence of 5 years in prison and a $250k fine. Yesterday, we were able to view his plea agreement, and again, many have read this in ways I do not read it. I hope that you will put emotion aside for a moment and please go through this with me calmly and rationally.
For the *most* part, it is super vanilla. However, this is where the juice lies, and again please pay close attention to the highlighted (and underlined) sections.
First, let us please take a look at 1b1.8 (a). Once you have read this, let’s please wipe ourselves of the notion that Clinesmith isn’t cooperating. It just isn’t supported by fact.
And for section B, which stipulated that Clinesmith needs to provide or have provided information the government did not already know. This means that he needed to give him new information they weren't able to uncover themselves over the course of the (at least) two-year investigation. Please ponder that for a moment.
Now, many people are stating that this agreement didn’t say anything specific about cooperating as General Flynns did, and I will explain that in a moment, but first, let me talk about the acceptance of guilt issue.
In my opinion, and from experience with these corrupt bureaucrats, it is very likely Clinesmith is publicly stating he didn’t do it on purpose because he doesn’t want his fellow plotters to know just how much he gave up already. He would much rather publicly feign ignorance than have any of the others understand how badly he has destroyed their Cheerios.
Great researchers out there have been talking about the fact that Clinesmith may be able to claim he misunderstood what the CIA liaison was saying, and have supported that with some sound reasoning. Let's assume that this is the case- and these folks are claiming this is a worst-case scenario. That means, that this case would be really hard to bring to trial. The DOJ knows this. Durham knows this. The case jurisdiction is in Washington, DC. It is understood how difficult it would be to get an impartial jury in DC. It’s why this cooperating witness, who has been cooperating for some time now, has a very specific plea deal that is very narrow in scope and concerns very specific material. That may be why there hasn’t been much push back on it at all.
Additionally, we need to talk about the elephant in the room-
This is likely a deal they came to a long, long time ago. “We won't charge you for "x" major felony and "x" major felony if you FULLY COOPERATE with us on XYZ”. And now that they are nearing the end of the investigation portion of things, you get this plea deal everyone is lamenting.
Clinesmith saved his behind with this deal. He knows it, and they know it. His deal references a very specific subset of information, and leaves clearly open the possibility of other charges not related to the email alteration should he step out of line. Read it again. You will see that clearly.
Now, “Why doesn’t the deal say anything about him cooperating?!?!”
It does. It states it very clearly as I have demonstrated above, however conveniently missing is something like this. This is General Michael Flynn's plea deal.
The Mueller plea deals were political weapons, written solely to inflict political damage and give the media a carrot on a stick and rats in Congress something to chew on. They were highly visible documents the entire world would be reading.
Mueller wanted to create the illusion that everyone was turning on the President, and there was so much to tell; “We are going to get him now! General Flynn has flipped and is COOPERATING!"
You don’t need language like that when the cooperation is finished, and the guy you just copped a plea from has given up the goods already. Nor do you need it when your investigation is by the book and straightforward.
In closing, we were told Clinesmith wouldn’t be “earth-shattering” which I take to mean that he is the lowest fruit and the plea is for a lesser charge. We were told there would be more significant developments before the election, Clinesmith as the baseline. He is clearly cooperating/has cooperated if you read documents and don’t react emotionally, and the rest will follow in due course.
We were given a heads up about what was coming. It was an honest assessment. Why folks doubt Durham now given all of what we know and the fact that we have a plea deal is beyond me. I think we need less emotion and desperation, and transparent analysis of the facts in front of us, something that is sorely lacking.
Tracy Beanz is the Founder and Editor in Chief at UncoverDC. You can follow her on Twitter @TracyBeanz