Former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith formally pleaded guilty on Wednesday to changing text in an email when working to renew the surveillance application of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in 2017.
Judge James Boasberg of the DC District Court accepted his plea at a hearing that lasted about an hour Wednesday.
Clinesmith admitted to one charge of inserting the words "not a source" into an email in 2017 about Page's history with the CIA, when Page had been a contact. The email was part of preparations officials were making to apply for a renewal to Page's wiretap in 2017. The Justice Department has since invalidated that renewal application, and several officials have harshly criticized FBI procedures in the handling of surveillance applications.
"At the time I believed the information I was providing in the email was accurate. But I am agreeing that the information I inserted into the email was not originally there and I inserted that information," Clinesmith told the judge over the phone on Wednesday.
Boasberg also leads the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that approved the Page wiretaps. He confirmed with Clinesmith's defense lawyer and prosecutors on Wednesday that he wouldn't need to recuse himself from the case.
Clinesmith's case, announced on August 14, represents the first public production from the highly anticipated Durham investigation, an effort to revisit intelligence used in the Russia prove that's been encouraged by President Donald Trump for and spearheaded by Attorney General William Barr.
His sentencing is set for December 10. Clinesmith was released on personal recognizance, but has some travel restrictions.
Clinesmith's charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, but his likely sentence is zero to six months.
Page was surveilled as part of the FBI's Russia counterintelligence investigation, then called "Crossfire Hurricane," because of years of contact he had had with Russians. He had been a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser in 2016.