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As the U.S. government seeks prison time for a former FBI lawyer who admitted falsifying evidence to spy on a former Trump aide, the District of Columbia Bar association hasn’t begun an investigation to strip him of his law license, records show.

Carter Page: Ex-FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith (top photo) is still listed as an “active” attorney in “good standing” with the D.C. Bar despite forging a document to win approval to spy on Page.
FNC

The defendant, Kevin Eugene Clinesmith, is still listed as an “active” attorney in “good standing” with the Democrat-controlled D.C. Bar, despite his having pleaded guilty more than five months ago to illegally altering a document used for authorization to electronically eavesdrop on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page as part of the FBI’s Russiagate probe.

A search of the D.C. Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel database of "disciplinary proceedings" turns up no such proceedings against Clinesmith, even though his guilty plea was reported to the bar and the bar's board has received at least one formal complaint demanding his disbarment.

“The only appropriate sanction for committing a serious felony that also interfered with the proper administration of justice and constituted misrepresentation, fraud and moral turpitude is disbarment,” the National Legal and Policy Center said in a complaint it filed with the bar on Sept. 10. “Anything less would minimize the seriousness of the misconduct.”

The 38-year-old Clinesmith, a registered Democrat who sent anti-Trump rants to FBI colleagues after the Republican was elected in 2016, was sentenced to a year of probation on Friday, far less than the government recommended.

Earlier: Evidence Ties FBI Higher-Ups to Deceit of Anti-Trump Lawyer
Earlier: Repeatedly Ignoring Evidence Carter Page Was No Traitor

In arguing for leniency, lawyers for Clinesmith told the court that their client “self-reported his conduct and his guilty plea to the authorities where he is licensed as an attorney. And he has voluntarily offered to stop practicing law until those disciplinary authorities complete their review of Kevin’s conduct.”

But Paul Kamenar, the National Legal and Policy Center counsel who drafted the ethics watchdog’s complaint, said Clinesmith appears to have violated a bar rule requiring him to report his crime within 10 days of his guilty plea in August.

Clinesmith was admitted to the D.C. bar in 2008 and the Michigan bar a year earlier, after he graduated from Michigan State University Law School.

Unlike the D.C. Bar, the State Bar of Michigan automatically suspended Clinesmith from practicing law in the state on Aug. 19, the day the court accepted his guilty plea.

However, a notice of the action was not posted on the State of Michigan Attorney Discipline Board website until Jan. 14. And the document does not come up under his name in the directory of all Michigan attorneys who have been the subject of disciplinary proceedings.

“That’s very strange,” a State Bar of Michigan spokeswoman said.

Still, "he is under disciplinary suspension,” she confirmed. "He is not in good standing.”

Clinesmith’s suspension will remain in effect until a disciplinary review panel decides his case.

Kamenar said the fate of his license in Michigan could be influenced by the D.C. Bar. Because Clinesmith has been practicing law in Washington since 2008, it has “primary jurisdiction over his bar status.” If he is disbarred in D.C., he would be subject to “reciprocal disbarment proceedings in Michigan."

In December 2019, the then-FISA court chief, Judge Rosemary Collyer, ordered the FBI to inform the court of all previous FISA cases Clinesmith had worked on and to “advise whether the conduct of the FBI attorney has been referred to the appropriate bar association(s) for investigation or possible disciplinary action.”

It’s not clear if the FBI complied with the order to report back to the FISA court about whether the D.C. and Michigan bars were notified of Clinesmith’s misconduct. The FBI declined comment and the FISA court did not respond to requests for comment.

Member: The bar may be going easy on Clinesmith "because he’s also a Democrat who hated Trump.”

The D.C. Bar, with more than 100,000 members from across the country, did not respond to questions regarding why it hasn't started a disciplinary review. But a longstanding member of the bar suspects board members are “dragging their feet because of politics.”

“The District of Columbia is a very liberal bar,” he said. “Basically, the leaders of the bar are liberal Democrats and may want to go light on the guy because he’s also a Democrat who hated Trump.”

Last month, 25 former D.C. Bar presidents published a letter in the Washington Post attacking then-President Trump for filing “groundless” lawsuits in battleground states where poll workers had complained in sworn affidavits about witnessing voter fraud and ballot tampering in favor of Joe Biden. The bar officials, who included former Clinton ally Jamie Gorelick and close Biden confidant Mark Tuohey, claimed Trump “abuse[d] the judicial system to subvert the democratic process."

Kamenar of the NLPC said it is outrageous the D.C. Bar still hasn’t taken up its complaint. 

“The District of Columbia has a duty and responsibility to take swift action to disbar Mr. Clinesmith,” Kamenar said, adding that because the six-year FBI veteran pleaded guilty to a felony, he is automatically subject to being disciplined by the bar.

 

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