Former FBI counsel James Baker crawled out from under the warm, damp and odoriferous place he’s been keeping himself to try to rehabilitate his shredded integrity with the aid of another swamp creature.
The venue was the Qatar-funded (Qatar is the major international sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood, if you’re keeping score) and the event was the LawFareBlog’s podcast. The host was Benjamin Wittes, who is a something-or-another at Brookings and runs LawFareBlog, both and either of which come within a few millimeters of making him an unregistered agent for Qatar. While his status as Qatar’s representative may be open to interpretation, his status as one of the most egregious peddlers of scurrlious trash about the Muller investigation and the Trump administration’s non-relationship with Russia, always prefacing the non-stories he was pushing with “BOOM!”
"That was the nugget of information that got everything going."
— CSPAN (@cspan) May 10, 2019
These are the highlights of his interview, with commentary. The source is this thread:
Former FBI lawyer @thejimbaker tells #LawfarePodcast “I just became sick of all the BS that is said about the origins of the [Russia] investigation.” Baker says he’s speaking out “to reassure the American people that it was done for legit reasons & that it was apolitical thruout”
— Carrie Johnson (@johnson_carrie) May 10, 2019
The information from a foreign partner about Trump adviser George Papadopoulos “is what triggered us going down this path” of investigating in 2016, Jim Baker said. “It would have been a dereliction if our duty not to investigate this information.”
We know this story is patent bullsh**. We know the FBI had possession of an early version of the Steele dossier by July 5, 2016. We further know from the Mueller report that Papadopoulos didn’t mention emails. If one comment, two months after the fact, delivered second hand was sufficient to set off an FBI investigation, the whole agency needs to be disbanded and we need to start from scratch. What makes this more damning is that it now is pretty obvious that Papadopoulos’s source, Joseph Mifsud, is almost certainly as Western, by that I mean British, intelligence asset. See How The George Papadopoulos Story Was Manufactured To Justify A Hoax Investigation.
Jim Baker said the investigation was about Russia. “To the extent that any Americans cross our radar screen, we will investigate that.”
Like the last statement, this, too, is bullsh**. We know for a fact that the Obama administration stood by and let the Russians operate with impunity during the 2016 campaign. We know from Congressional testimony and from the Mueller report that the Russian level of effort in the US was extremely small. The direct expenditures were little more than $100,000. We know that the FBI had some of the Russians involved in planning and executing this political meddling under surveillance when they were in the the US and they did nothing. See How The Obama Administration Watched The Russians Meddle In Our Election And Then Gave A “Stand Down” Order and Why Did Susan Rice Order Cyber Security Chief To ‘Stand Down’ In Response To Russian Meddling Just As FBI Began Trump/Russian Collusion Probe? and If Mueller’s Indictment Isn’t A Nothingburger You Could Be Forgiven For Making That Mistake.
Former FBI general counsel Jim Baker said now-Attorney General Bill Barr hired him at Verizon, where his rep was one of high integrity. Barr recently told Congress the FBI was “spying” in 2016. “It didn’t make sense to me,” Baker said. He’s eager to find out what Barr & IG found.
The mind boggles. Carter Page was kept under a bogus FISA warrant so two-hop surveillance (that is, not only the subject is subject to having his communications intercepted, but the people the subject talks to and the people they talk to are covered as well) could open the entire Trump campaign up to surveillance as Page and Sam Clovis remained in contact after Page left the campaign. We have the case of the US intelligence operative, probably CIA, who was dangled in front of George Papadopoulos. See FBI Does Preemptive Damage Control By Confirming The Trump Campaign Was The Target Of A Spying Operation. When the operation was described to John Brennan, even he agreed it was spying. See Maybe FBI Director Christopher Wray Should Ask John Brennan What He Thinks About Spying.
Baker said the Russia probe “was not predicated on the info that Christopher Steele gave us in the form of the dossier.” The FBI knows people sometimes have an agenda and “we vet the hell” out of the information they provide. “You want to do everything you can to validate it.”
This is simply false. We know for a fact that the FISA warrant on Carter Page was 100% based on the Steele Dossier. We can dance around what “predicated” means but without the Steele Dossier, the Papadopoulos inquiry would have gone no further than it did.
Some parts of the Steele dossier may have “washed out,” Jim Baker said, but “this is what happens in an investigation. An investigation is basically a question that you start out with….”
Jim Baker said he asked to look over the initial FISA application for Carter Page before it went to DOJ for approval. “I was comfortable that the application…was consistent with the laws & constitution of the US.” He said, “I knew it would be sensitive.”
By some parts, he means all. All factual allegations in the dossier as they pertain to both Michael Cohen and Carter Page have been proven false. The Mueller report says as much. And the Mueller report confirms that none of the allegations made against Page in the FISA warrant were true. Oddly enough, Page is the one guy to come out of his encounters with Muellers inquisitors without an indictment. See How The FBI Blatantly Lied About Christopher Steele To The FISA Court.
Of the idea that the role of a US political campaign played a role in & the dossier and that it was disclosed in a footnote to the Page FISA application, Jim Baker said, “nobody’s going to miss a page-long footnote in regular type,” especially sophisticated federal judges.
The approval rate for FISA warrants, at the time, was literally 99.97%. In other words, it was easier to get a FISA warrant from a “sophisticated federal judge” than it was to get a bill of indictment from the roomful of mopes that comprise your typical grand jury. We know from recent reporting that the FBI had Christopher Steele toddle on over to the State Department and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland warned staff that they risked violating the Hatch Act if they had contact with Steele.
Jim Baker said, “there was no coup. There was no attempted coup….there was no way in hell I was going to allow some coup or coup attempt to take place on my watch,” or anything else unlawful, he adds.
And yet, Strzok, Page, and “Andy” met regularly in Baker’s office.
Of this period at FBI and DOJ, Jim Baker said, “it was traumatic” and he doesn’t use that word lightly. Of the Mueller report, he said, “my reaction is ‘yes, that it was validating.’” Baker said, “they found a lot of stuff….this was a real investigation about a real problem.”
Actually, they found nothing. They found the Russia allegations were a hoax, chapter and verse. The “obstruction” allegation is nothing but an highly unethical use of an investigative report to smear President Trump because Mueller, Weissmann, and other knew they had nothing.
Jim Baker said the obstruction evidence uncovered by the Mueller team looks like “a pattern of corruption” and even if it’s not criminal, it’s concerning.
Actually, if it is not criminal it is none of his freakin business. He doesn’t have a role in criminalizing actions he doesn’t like.
The Justice Department Inspector General is investigating the origins of the Russia probe and Jim Baker said, “I welcome the accountability.” Baker said, “I’m always nervous about the IG, I guess,” adding the people are pleasant even if the process sometimes isn’t.
If he welcomed accountability, he’d be on the South Lawn of the White House tomorrow to commit seppuku.
That IG probe could be put in May or June. Jim Baker’s takeaway is “if mistakes were made at any level within the organization, then hopefully the Inspector General will find those.”
Jim Baker: some employers told him he was too “controversial” after Trump’s tweets. He’s found job but still has leak probe hanging. “I’m confident that I did nothing wrong & that I did nothing illegal & that once this is concluded, the Department will come to the same conclusion”
I shouldn’t say this, but I will. I really have no problem with Comey or Brennan or Clapper or Strzok or Page or Baker or McCabe going to prison or simply being made so radioactive that they can’t even get a job as a WalMart greeter. Unless public shame and financial ruin attaches to having participated in this soft coup attempt, someone will be tempted to try it again.
Jim Baker said he cooperated with the criminal leak probe over many hours and many days about 1 1/2 years ago, and has not heard much since except the Justice Department investigation is still open.
I hope we hear a lot more. Soon. And we hear it from a grand jury.
End of day update: I wanted to find out what is happening (or not) with the criminal leak probe Jim Baker referenced today. The US Attorney’s office referred me to DOJ headquarters, which has declined comment on the status of the investigation.
What is notable about this is that it is one shameless and transparent lie after another. At no point does Baker speak to the fact that Donald Trump was never given a “defensive briefing” on suspicious activities that would have allowed him to fire problematic employees. The fact that we know that Michael Flynn was targeted for surveillance…imagine alleging that the 3-star who ran the Defense Intelligence Agency was not loyal to the nation…indicates there was a helluva lot more going on here than the investigation of a wine-fueled bullsh** session in a London bar. Baker never admits the obvious, that the FBI was, at a minimum, overzealous, if not outright partisan in its actions towards the Trump campaign. And, perhaps the most sad part is that the slimy little weasel seems to believe he’s been treated unfairly.
How about we find out everything the FBI/intel agencies did during the 2016 campaign and transition, and then we can argue over how to characterize it? https://t.co/ZuDUxbvKve
— Byron York (@ByronYork) May 10, 2019