Several prominent Republican lawmakers strongly criticized a judge's sentence Friday that resulted in probation and no prison time for the only person charged in the Justice Department's investigation into the origins of alleged Trump-Russia collusion.
Former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith received a sentence of 12 months probation and 400 hours community service from U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg during a video hearing. Clinesmith pleaded guilty to altering an CIA email used to support a government wiretap of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Boasberg, who also is on the FISA court, denied special counsel John Durham's recommendation of up to six months in prison. The judge said Clinesmith had suffered the loss of a well-paying job and a career in government service.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told the Washington Examiner that "once again, we see a two-tiered system of justice where average Americans get investigated and imprisoned based on fake media narratives like 'Russian collusion' while government officials who perpetuated these abuses get off scot-free."
Nunes, former House Intelligence Committee chairman who unearthed issues with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act process in the Trump-Russia investigation, added: "The FBI, DOJ, and judicial system need to regain Americans' trust, and this absurd sentencing won't help."
Other Republicans also expressed outrage at the judge's decision.
"This sentence is absolutely despicable," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told the Examiner.
"An FBI agent falsified evidence in one of the Bureau's most important investigations ever and a slap on the wrist isn't going to cut it," Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said in a statement.
Sasse added, "this isn't traffic court" and argued, "America only works if the truth matters, if lying has consequences, and if public servants are held accountable for breaking the laws."
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the punishment "trivializes what I believe to be a stunning breach of duty to the Court and to the American people" and "will only further erode the American people's confidence in DOJ and FBI, after they took the law into their own hands."
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, tweeted: "Very rare that dept of 'JUST US' wld recommend jail time 4 one of their own. But they did 4 Clinesmith former FBI attorney who falsified paperwork 2spy on Trump campaign+prop up phony collusion probe+violate civil liberties of Carter Page. Outrageous DC judge gave NO prison time.”
Clinesmith, who worked on the FBI's Trump-Russia inquiry as well as special counsel Robert Mueller's team, admitted to Durham’s team in August that he falsified a document during the bureau's efforts to renew FISA surveillance authority against Page, who had been a foreign policy adviser to former President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.
Page has denied any wrongdoing and was never charged with a crime.
Mueller’s April 2019 report said the Russian government interfered in a "sweeping and systematic fashion" but the special counsel "did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities."
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