Another senior FBI official, this one is FBI general counsel James Baker, has been removed from his position and reassigned to make-work activities after he became a prime suspect as the source who leaked FBI reaction to the Trump dossier to the media.
House Republicans are investigating contact between the FBI’s top lawyer and a Mother Jones reporter in the weeks before the left-leaning outlet broke the first news story about the existence of a disputed dossier alleging ties between President Donald Trump and the Kremlin, according to two congressional GOP sources who described documents linking the two men.
The GOP sources said the documents — made available recently to lawmakers by the Department of Justice — revealed that James Baker, the FBI’s general counsel, communicated with Mother Jones reporter David Corn in the weeks leading up to the November 2016 election. Corn was the first to report the existence of the dossier on Oct. 31 and that it was compiled by a former high-level western spy.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Baker had been reassigned within the FBI, though the reason for the move was unclear.
Corn denied that Baker was a source for his story on the dossier.
“I’m not going to discuss my sources. But in order to prevent the dissemination of inaccurate information, I will say that James Baker was not my source for this story,” he said in a statement to POLITICO.
The congressional sources said there’s no conclusive evidence that Baker aided Corn’s reporting or acted as a source. But Republicans are pointing to the connection to cast suspicion about whether FBI officials had a hand in directing the details of the dossier to reporters, and the two sources said they expect it to be a focus of GOP investigators’ upcoming lines of inquiry.
POLITICO, naturally, doesn’t connect dots to point a finger at Baker, but if one has a #2 pencil try connecting these.
On Tuesday, Baker accompanied FBI deputy director Andrew “you can call me Andy as we violate the Hatch Act” McCabe to Capitol Hill to testify in a closed-door session of the House Intelligence Committee. During the question, one GOP lawmaker asked McCabe, “hypothetically,” if Baker had met with Mother Jones’s David Corn–mind you this was with Baker sitting there–if McCabe would think anything amiss. McCabe said such a meeting would be “unauthorized.” Members of Congress don’t ask that kind of a question unless both witness and questioner know there is proof that the “hypothetical” is real.
At the end of the session, the committee announced it would subpoena Baker for more questions on Thursday–along with Peter “insurance policy” Strzok and Bruce Ohr, the DOJ official who was still working with dossier author Christopher Steele after the November election. That didn’t happen but Thursday the Washington Post reported:
The FBI’s top lawyer, James Baker, is being reassigned — one of the first moves by new director Christopher A. Wray to assemble his own team of senior advisers as he tries to fend off accusations of politicization within the bureau.
Baker told colleagues he will be taking on other duties at the FBI, according to people familiar with the matter. In recent months, Baker had been caught up in a strange interagency dispute that led to a leak probe and attracted the attention of senior lawmakers, but people familiar with the matter said the probe had recently ended with a decision not to charge anyone. The leak issue had not played a part in Baker’s reassignment, these people said.
Leak probe? Did someone say leak probe?
The FBI’s top lawyer is allegedly under investigation for purportedly leaking classified material featured in a Reuters report last year that disclosed a top-secret U.S. surveillance program built by Yahoo Inc, according to several government officials with knowledge of the investigation.
The Reuters report disclosed the software program developed by Yahoo Inc. for the U.S. government that allowed the intelligence community to search Yahoo emails containing specific characters or phrases. The U.S. government has not publicly acknowledged the program.
James A. Baker, the general counsel for the FBI, is allegedly under a criminal investigation for an apparent connection to the story published in October 2016, according to several government officials. The Reuters report exposed the top secret security program built by Yahoo Inc. in 2015, that has not been disclosed by the U.S. government. The program, which was built at the request of the U.S. government, allowed intelligence officials to scan what is known as “upstream data” using specific characters or phrase words, according to Reuters. Upstream data is information from a device such as phone or a computer to a server.
Reuters stated that Yahoo Inc. complied with a classified demand by the U.S. government, “scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said three former employees and a fourth person apprised of the events.”
FBI spokeswoman Carol Cratty said the bureau would not comment on Baker and did not confirm or deny the alleged criminal investigation. Attempts by Circa to reach Baker, who is reportedly a close confidant of former FBI Director James Comey, through the bureau were not successful.
Allegedly, Baker opposed the program and leaked to expose it and kill it.
Comey and his clique are apoplectic.
Sadly, we are now at a point in our political life when anyone can be attacked for partisan gain. James Baker, who is stepping down as FBI General Counsel, served our country incredibly well for 25 years & deserves better. He is what we should all want our public servants to be.
— James Comey (@Comey) December 23, 2017
Left unsaid, much like in the case with Mueller and Comey, Comey and Baker were close friends and had worked together in both the FBI and the private sector. So Comey is bemoaning the loss of a center of influence on his behalf in upper FBI management.
Benjamin Wittes, another Comey crony and editor of Lawfare blog is incensed:
What an irresponsible story! @DavidCornDC makes perfectly clear that Jim Baker was not his source for the Steele Dossier, and yet @politico traffics anyway in House Republicans saying he might be: https://t.co/6XYPOkzvGv
— Benjamin Wittes (@benjaminwittes) December 22, 2017
If Wittes is this upset, there is exactly one reason. FBI Director Wray has just shut down a source that was feeding him and others inside information about FBI actions.
The FBI, you see, is a hotbed of conservatives who would never make common cause with the left, or its media outlets, certainly not with Mother Jones. Unless… https://t.co/fskCW4r7rA
— Brit Hume (@brithume) December 23, 2017
The FBI might be sniveling about low morale right now, but given the overt actions by that agency to interfere in the 2016 election and to damage the lawfully elected president, they really have no right to be happy about themselves.