The Senate Intelligence Committee, after its own three-year investigation that maintained a broader counterintelligence focus, built on those findings this week with a bipartisan report laying out an extensive web of contacts between Trump campaign advisers and Russian officials. Among them, it said Konstantin V. Kilimnik, with whom the onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort privately shared internal polling data and campaign strategy, was a “Russian intelligence officer” with links to the Kremlin’s election interference operation. Senators said the dynamic “represented a grave counterintelligence threat.”
Mr. Trump has sought to portray such scrutiny as a “hoax” and a plot by the so-called deep state to sabotage him for political reasons. While the Page wiretap was a small piece of the investigation, the president and his allies have sought to conflate the overall effort with it, using the serious problems Mr. Horowitz uncovered with its applications to discredit the entire enterprise.
Mr. Horowitz’s findings that Mr. Clinesmith doctored the email looked especially bad because Mr. Clinesmith was also among several F.B.I. officials whom Mr. Mueller removed from the Trump-Russia investigation after Mr. Horowitz found text messages in which they expressed political animus against Mr. Trump.
Shortly after Mr. Trump won the 2016 election, for example, Mr. Clinesmith texted another official that “the crazies won finally,” while disparaging Mr. Trump’s health care and immigration agendas and calling Vice President Mike Pence “stupid.” Asked by a colleague whether he intended to stay in government, he wrote: “viva la resistance.”
Neither Mr. Horowitz’s report nor Mr. Durham’s court filings explicitly ascribed a motive to Mr. Clinesmith for his actions, but both presented evidence that he had changed the email during a moment of bureaucratic peril for the Page wiretap effort — when the F.B.I. came close to realizing as an institution that something was flawed about all its Page applications.
The applications recounted Mr. Page’s long history of interacting with Russian intelligence officials, even after he learned he had been the target of an apparent recruitment effort in 2013. But what they did not say was that he also had a history of talking to the C.I.A. about some of those interactions, including one of the ones the wiretap applications cited as a reason to be suspicious of him.
In August 2016, two months before the first application, the C.I.A. sent a memo to the F.B.I. saying it had considered Mr. Page from 2008 to 2013 to be an “operational contact,” someone whom the spy agency can debrief but not assign to gather information. Such documents are subject to special restrictions for security reasons, and it is not clear who saw it; although Mr. Clinesmith was entitled to look at it, he said he did not.