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Westlake Legal Group > james baker

FBI Lawyer Says Page FISA Was Handled in an “Unusual Way,” Implicates Comey, McCabe, and Yates

Westlake Legal Group SallyYates-620x325 FBI Lawyer Says Page FISA Was Handled in an “Unusual Way,” Implicates Comey, McCabe, and Yates Unusual Trisha Anderson sally yates political misconduct james comey james baker Front Page Stories Front Page fisa warrant Featured Story FBI donald trump doj democrats corruption Carter Page Andrew McCabe

As we move closer and closer to the completion of the IG report on how the Trump-Russia investigation was handled, including the probable misuse of the FISA court, we are seeing more relevant Congressional testimony from top officials released.

One session revealed this week involves Trisha Anderson, an FBI lawyer who signed off on the Carter Page warrants. She testified in August of 2018 on her role and what she knew regarding how the process went down.

In her testimony, she alleges that the application process for the FISA warrant was handled in an “unusual” fashion and that numerous Obama era FBI officials were involved at the highest levels in pushing it through.

But Anderson stressed “in this particular case, I’m drawing a distinction because my boss and my boss’ boss had already reviewed and approved this application.” She emphasized “this one was handled a little bit differently in that sense, in that it received very high-level review and approvals — informal, oral approvals — before it ever came to me for signature.”

Normally, a FISA application would go to the legal department first to confirm that it is indeed proper to press forward with. In this case, top officials informally “approved” the application first, signaling to Anderson that her signature was just perfunctory.

Anderson said that FISA approvals are typically “tracked in a linear fashion” and that someone in the Senior Executive Service “is the final approver on hard copy before a FISA goes to the director or deputy director for signature.” She said the Page FISA was approved outside regular procedures.

“Because there were very high-level discussions that occurred about the FISA,” Anderson said she believed that meant “the FISA essentially had already been well-vetted all the way up through at least the Deputy Director [McCabe] level on our side and through the DAG [Yates] on the DOJ side.” Yates had already signed the application by the time it made it to Anderson’s desk.

In other words, things were done completely backwards. Instead of going through the normal checks and balances, a bunch of political appointees at the top approved the application before anyone else got ahold of it. Sally Yates, representing the DOJ, had signed off on it before the FBI’s legal department had even done their analysis.

A major check on fraudulent FISA applications was simply skipped. Anderson stressed that this was not normal.

Anderson stressed that McCabe, Yates, and Baker all played key roles in reviewing the Page FISA. “My approval at that point was really purely administrative in nature. In other words, the substantive issues — the FISA had already substantively been approved by people much higher than me in the chain of command,” Anderson said.

Anderson said it “typically would not have been the case” that people such as McCabe and Yates would sign off on a FISA application before she did.

We also learn that James Baker had personally edited the application.

“The General Counsel [Jim Baker] … personally reviewed and made edits to the FISA, for example,” Anderson said. “The Deputy Director was involved in reviewing the FISA line by line. The Deputy Attorney General over on the DOJ side of the street was similarly involved, as I understood, reviewing the FISA application line by line.”

What all this does is firmly implicate James Comey, Sally Yates, Andrew McCabe, and James Baker. There can be no passing of the buck as they chose to ignore normal procedure and push forward a FISA application in a completely atypical way.

This gives us a clue as to why James Comey and James Baker decided to go on media tours the last few weeks, gnashing their teeth over any possible investigation into their wrongdoing.

I still expect no one to actually be punished here, but the more this stuff is exposed to the American people, the better.

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The post FBI Lawyer Says Page FISA Was Handled in an “Unusual Way,” Implicates Comey, McCabe, and Yates appeared first on RedState.

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Barr: “Government power was used to spy on American citizens”

Westlake Legal Group barr-spying2 Barr: “Government power was used to spy on American citizens” william barr The Blog spying john durham james comey james baker Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Federal Bureau of Investigation

Looks like William Barr still has no issues using the s-word to describe Operation Crossfire Hurricane. Despite criticism over calling the FISA-warrant surveillance on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page “spying,” Barr insists that’s exactly what it was in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Barr wants to develop more specific rules for the circumstances which gave rise to it in order to ensure any future probes are properly predicated:

Attorney General William Barr said his review of the origins of the Russia investigation is focused on U.S. intelligence gathering before the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened its formal inquiry in July 2016 and could lead to rule changes for counterintelligence investigations of political campaigns.

“Government power was used to spy on American citizens,” Mr. Barr told The Wall Street Journal, in his first interview since taking office in February. “I can’t imagine any world where we wouldn’t take a look and make sure that was done properly.”

He added: “Just like we need to ensure that foreign actors don’t influence the outcome of our elections, we need to ensure that the government doesn’t use its powers to put a thumb on the scale.”

As before, Barr argues that the term is not meant pejoratively; it merely makes a connection to FISA’s counterintelligence purposes. Former FBI officials James Comey and James Baker insist that the word “spying” is wrong and that the FBI does not “spy” on people, a rather interesting argument considering that the FBI is the only domestic agency chartered to conduct counterespionage in the US. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is not a normal law-enforcement tool, but specifically for the FBI to conduct espionage on US persons who are supposed to be conclusively shown to act as foreign agents.

Operation Crossfire Hurricane was not a domestic law-enforcement investigation, as Comey and Baker hint. It was a counterintelligence operation, which is why the FBI had to seek a FISA warrant in the first place to surveil Page. Had it been a law-enforcement operation, they could have sought warrants under normal law-enforcement functions, but they would have had to show probable cause that Page was part of criminal activity. The FBI sought a FISA warrant instead in order to conduct counterespionage surveillance, which in any practical terms is spying.

The utter lack of any connection between Page and indictments against anyone in this operation suggests that the FBI got it wrong on Page. Their FISA warrant’s reliance on the Steele dossier suggests that they might have cut corners to get it in the first place. It doesn’t require a genius to see that, at the very least, the FBI and Department of Justice need to rethink their compliance procedures after this embarrassing failure. The use of the word “spying” is the least of our worries, especially since it happens to accurately convey what the FBI did, whether or not it was properly predicated.

None of this presumes a political motive either, although the risks there are apparent enough. Barr mentions the risk of an administration putting its “thumb on the scale” in an election but doesn’t allege that’s what happened here. The FBI could very well have made a series of honest errors and overzealously pursued a FISA warrant, too. However, that’s still a good reason to investigate every aspect of the decisions that led to Operation Crossfire Hurricane and all of the actions within it — so those mistakes never get made again.

Kim Strassel hails the appointment of John Durham to find those answers, and the opportunity to resolve this credibly and with finality:

The Connecticut prosecutor is a straight arrow. Even Chris Murphy, Mr. Durham’s home state Democratic senator, praised him this week as “apolitical,” “serious,” and “fair.” In a 37-year tenure at the Justice Department, Mr. Durham has served six presidents. Federal records show he has never donated to a political candidate. He’s the antithesis of a showboater; he doesn’t do news conferences and he doesn’t do leaks.

Mr. Durham has also specialized in investigations into government actors—from the Federal Bureau of Investigation to the Central Intelligence Agency to political figures. The record shows that he doesn’t bring prosecutions lightly, but also isn’t afraid to hold the powerful to account. I’ve confirmed he’ll be joined by the highly respected Nora Dannehy. Ms. Dannehy was herself once the U.S. attorney in Connecticut and in 2008 led the probe into the George W. Bush administration’s controversial firing of U.S. attorneys. She only recently returned to Justice from private practice and is working as counsel in Mr. Durham’s office.

The esteemed duo can give the public confidence that Justice and FBI actions are getting a fair and thorough look.

Perhaps we can all pledge to accept Durham’s eventual findings. If Durham finds nothing amiss or just some poor judgment calls, then critics should support those findings and any efforts to make FBI and DoJ guidelines less ambiguous. If Durham finds more than that, though, perhaps defenders of Comey and Baker will pledge to pursue that to its full conclusion.

The post Barr: “Government power was used to spy on American citizens” appeared first on Hot Air.

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Ex-Top FBI Lawyer Does Damage Control, Says They Took the Dossier “Seriously” but Not “Literally”

Westlake Legal Group fbi-james-baker-620x367 Ex-Top FBI Lawyer Does Damage Control, Says They Took the Dossier “Seriously” but Not “Literally” Washington Examiner Steele dossier Skullduggery Politics james comey james baker investigation Fusion GPS Front Page Stories Front Page FISA Abuse Featured Story FBI donald trump corruption Carter Page bill barr

Something you don’t take literally probably shouldn’t be used in a FISA application. Just spitballing here.

These former FBI officials have spun themselves in so many knots at this point that nothing they are currently saying makes any sense. James Baker is no exception. The former top FBI lawyer appeared on the “Skullduggery” podcast to defend his handling of the pile of garbage that is the Steele dossier.

Former FBI General Counsel James Baker is defending the FBI’s handling of the Trump dossier, saying “we took it seriously” but “we didn’t necessarily take it literally” and did not treat it as “literally true in every respect.”

In fact, the FBI was aware of numerous falsehoods in the dossier from the start, yet they continued to take it “seriously” anyway. Why and based on what?

Baker of course won’t say.

The dossier, packed with salacious and unverified claims about President Trump’s ties to Russia, was written by British ex-spy Christopher Steele and formed a key part of the FISA applications used to justify surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Sitting down with Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman for a “Skullduggery” podcast released on Wednesday, Baker said the FBI treated the dossier as “something that we were obligated to deal with and obligated to assess. He did not provide any details on what, if anything, the FBI verified in the dossier.

The reason he won’t say is because they didn’t take any steps to verify it at all. Not anything meaningful anyway. How do I know that? Because when he’s pressed on the issue, this is his response.

Isikoff asked Baker what his overall assessment of the credibility of the allegations made in Steele’s dossier was as of October 2016 when it was used extensively before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Baker referred to the redacted Page FISA application with “a long footnote that goes into describing our assessment of Steele” that he said “successfully endeavors at least what we knew at the top of the organization about Steele and his reliability at that time, and to put the court on notice … about matters regarding Steele’s credibility so the court could make an assessment.”

The footnote to which Baker referred does not cast doubt on even the most outlandish of Steele’s allegations but rather makes it clear the FBI trusts Steele: “Based on Source #1’s [Steele’s] previous reporting history with the FBI, whereby Source #1 [Steele] provided reliable information to the FBI, the FBI believes Source #1’s [Steele’s] reporting herein to be credible.”

In other words, they simply took Steele’s word for it. It didn’t matter to them that glaring errors were already readily apparent within the dossier. It didn’t matter that most of Steele’s sources were Russian agents who had every reason to sow disinformation. The DOJ also knew of Steele’s bias towards Trump via communications with Bruce Ohr.

Despite all that, they presented the dossier as credible to the FISA court with no evidentiary basis whatsoever. The only reason you do that is for political reasons, i.e. to have an insurance plan (as Strzok and Page discussed) just in case Trump wins.

Why is James Baker speaking out now? Because he’s the one who personally signed off on the the Carter Page FISA warrant. That means he carries a large burden of the responsibility for its legality. It’s no coincidence that all these implicated former Obama officials are making the media rounds. It’s also no coincidence that publications like The New York Times are now trying to run cover by shifting narratives around and pre-spinning bad behavior. They know the coming IG report is going to be brutal and they want to get ahead of it as best as possible.

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The post Ex-Top FBI Lawyer Does Damage Control, Says They Took the Dossier “Seriously” but Not “Literally” appeared first on RedState.

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FBI general counsel: We were “quite worried” that Comey might appear to be blackmailing Trump with dossier

Westlake Legal Group baker-skulduggery FBI general counsel: We were “quite worried” that Comey might appear to be blackmailing Trump with dossier The Blog Steele dossier james comey james baker J. Edgar Hoover Federal Bureau of Investigation donald trump

A bombshell comment, but perhaps more flash than impact. In an interview with Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff, former FBI general counsel James Baker says that a sharp disagreement arose within the bureau over how to brief president-elect Donald Trump on the Christopher Steele dossier. Some, including then-director James Comey, wanted to assure Trump that he was not a target of the investigation over worries that the briefing might look like a J. Edgar Hoover-esque attempt at “blackmailing” the incoming president. Baker said he disagreed, because in his mind Trump was still a subject of the investigation (via Twitchy):

Senior FBI officials were concerned then director James Comey would appear to be blackmailing then President-elect Trump – using tactics notoriously associated with J.Edgar Hoover – when he attended a fateful Jan. 6, 2017, meeting at which he informed the real estate magnate about allegations he had consorted with prostitutes in Moscow, according to Jim Baker, the bureau’s chief counsel at the time.

“We were quite worried about the Hoover analogies, and we were determined not to have such a disaster happen on our watch,” said Jim Baker, then the FBI’s top lawyer in an interview with the Yahoo News podcast Skullduggery. But he and Comey determined the bureau had an obligation to tell Trump of the uncorroborated allegations because “the press has it; it’s about to come out. You should be alerted to that fact.”

The argument led Comey to a middle-ground approach with Trump that backfired spectacularly, according to Baker:

As Baker saw it, Trump was clearly a “subject” of the investigation because, as head of his own campaign, he was among those whose activities were being examined by the FBI.

But Comey thought explaining that distinction to the president-elect would have been “too confusing.” It would have been “hard to understand, be misinterpreted and he just didn’t think it was the right thing to do,” Baker said about Comey’s view about what to say.

In the end, Comey told Trump he was not under investigation—a comment that came back to haunt Comey when he later refused to say the same thing publicly, a key factor that led to Trump’s decision to fire him.

That certainly puts a new gloss on Trump’s decision to fire Comey. After having Comey backtrack, it might very well have looked to Trump that Comey had ulterior motives for the dossier briefing — and perhaps suspected the bureau of leaking it in the first place. That certainly would appear Hooveresque to the person most impacted by it, even though it may not have happened that way in reality.

Baker insists that it didn’t. This isn’t an admission, although it could read that way. It’s a defense of the FBI from Baker, a declaration that they were sensitive to perception all along when it came to the dossier and the investigation. Unfortunately, it’s as effective a defense as Baker’s assertion in the same interview that they weren’t taking Steele’s dossier literally, even though they relied on a literal interpretation to get a succession of FISA warrants on Carter Page:

Former FBI General Counsel James Baker is defending the FBI’s handling of the Trump dossier, saying “we took it seriously” but “we didn’t necessarily take it literally” and did not treat it as “literally true in every respect.”

The dossier, packed with salacious and unverified claims about President Trump’s ties to Russia, was written by British ex-spy Christopher Steele and formed a key part of the FISA applications used to justify surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. …

Isikoff asked Baker what his overall assessment of the credibility of the allegations made in Steele’s dossier was as of October 2016 when it was used extensively before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Baker referred to the redacted Page FISA application with “a long footnote that goes into describing our assessment of Steele” that he said “successfully endeavors at least what we knew at the top of the organization about Steele and his reliability at that time, and to put the court on notice … about matters regarding Steele’s credibility so the court could make an assessment.”

The footnote to which Baker referred does not cast doubt on even the most outlandish of Steele’s allegations but rather makes it clear the FBI trusts Steele: “Based on Source #1’s [Steele’s] previous reporting history with the FBI, whereby Source #1 [Steele] provided reliable information to the FBI, the FBI believes Source #1’s [Steele’s] reporting herein to be credible.”

The footnote mentions Steele was “approached by an identified U.S. person [Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson] who indicated to Source #1 [Steele] that a U.S.-based law firm [Perkins Coie] had hired the identified U.S. person [Glenn Simpson] to conduct research regarding Candidate #1’s [Trump’s] ties to Russia” and that “the FBI speculates that the identified U.S. person [Glenn Simpson] was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate #1’s [Trump’s] campaign.” But the footnote claims that Simpson never told Steele about motivation behind the project and studiously avoids telling the court that the funding for this effort was coming from the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

It might be news to the FISA court that the FBI didn’t take Steele’s dossier literally. And that’s the crux of multiple investigations into the origins of Operation Crossfire Hurricane. Did the FBI have sufficient predicate to seek that counterespionage warrant on someone in a presidential campaign, or did they mislead the FISA court? Did they have sufficient evidence to conduct an investigation in which the major-party presidential nominee was a “subject,” if not a “target”? If not, why did the FBI pursue the investigation?

Baker has gone on a public-relations tour since the release of the Mueller report to assure everyone that the FBI handled the investigation properly, as has Comey. The fact that Page not only never got indicted but never even figured into an indictment against anyone connected to Russia’s operations at least suggests that the bureau was barking up the wrong tree — and that’s not supposed to happen with FISA warrants. It seems as though both Baker and Comey are shaping a political and legal battleground post-Mueller, and neither one of them are doing an exceptionally good job of it.

The post FBI general counsel: We were “quite worried” that Comey might appear to be blackmailing Trump with dossier appeared first on Hot Air.

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Former FBI General Counsel: We Were ‘Quite Worried’ Comey Would Use Dossier To Blackmail Trump

Westlake Legal Group james-baker-fbi-620x348 Former FBI General Counsel: We Were ‘Quite Worried’ Comey Would Use Dossier To Blackmail Trump william barr Steele dossier President Trump Mueller Investigation Michael Isikoff john durham james comey james baker Front Page Stories Featured Story FBI and DOJ Corruption Allow Media Exception Abuse of Power

Following a meeting with British spy Christopher Steele in September 2016, reporter Michael Isikoff broke the story about the infamous dossier. In what is referred to as circular reporting in the world of journalism, the FBI used Isikoff’s article in their FISA Court application to corroborate the allegations of the dossier.

Isikoff interviewed former FBI General Counsel James Baker in an episode of Yahoo News’ “Skullduggery” which aired on Tuesday.

The interview began with questions about “internal bureau debates” over what to tell President-elect Trump about the dossier in the upcoming January 6, 2017 briefing by intelligence community leaders. Knowing that the media already had the story, Baker and Comey felt they had an “obligation” to notify Trump.

Baker told Isikoff, because “the press has it, it’s about to come out. You should be alerted to that fact.” However, “we were quite worried about the Hoover analogies, and we were determined not to have such a disaster happen on our watch.”

According to Baker, “senior FBI officials were concerned then director James Comey would appear to be blackmailing  Trump – using tactics notoriously associated with J.Edgar Hoover.”

Isikoff questioned Baker about Attorney General William Barr’s appointment of prosecutor John Durham to lead the investigation into the origins of the Trump/Russia story. He replied, “I welcome scrutiny. I plan to fully cooperate with the department to help them figure out what happened. Because I believe what happened was lawful, at least based on every piece of information that I have.”

Baker maintained:

The FBI would have been derelict in its duty if it did not investigate the allegations about Trump campaign’s ties to Russia during the 2016 election. It was pretty alarming. The thought that somehow somebody in either one of the campaigns might have had some connection to that [the Russians] or some awareness of it that they didn’t inform the FBI about was … quite concerning and disorienting.

Yes, we can imagine.

Baker said that he and Comey disagreed on what exactly to tell Trump. Comey believed they should tell Trump that he was not a “subject” of the investigation. Baker disagreed, telling Isikoff “I didn’t think it was accurate to say that he wasn’t under investigation. Trump was clearly a “subject” of the investigation because, as head of his own campaign, he was among those whose activities were being examined by the FBI.”

Baker told Isikoff that “Comey thought explaining that distinction to the president-elect would have been “too confusing.” It would have been “hard to understand, be misinterpreted and he just didn’t think it was the right thing to do.”

During the briefing, Comey wound up telling Trump that “he was not under investigation.” This was a mistake because Comey declined to make this statement publicly. Isikoff said that Comey’s refusal to do so was “a key factor that led to Trump’s decision to fire him.”

Isikoff asked Baker if bureau officials believed the allegations made in the dossier. Baker said “we took it seriously. We didn’t necessarily take it literally like it was literally true in every respect. But it was something that we were obligated to … assess.”

Asked why the FBI included the dossier in their October 23, 2016 FISA Court application for the warrant to spy on former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, Baker told him, “at the end of the day, the FBI believed [Steele] to be reliable.”

This statement is hard to believe for two reasons.

First, the Hill’s John Solomon reported last week that the FBI’s counterintelligence team had been notified by State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec eight days before they submitted their FISA application, of what she had learned in her meeting with Steele. Steele had admitted his work was political, had told her his client was “keen” to break this story before Election day, and that Kavalec had found inaccuracies in his story.

Second, the FBI fired Isikoff on November 1, 2016 because he had spoken to the press.

Isikoff asked Baker why the FBI declined to give a “defensive briefing” to the Trump campaign as is customary under circumstances like these. Baker said:

It was just simply we didn’t know enough at the time to assess what was going on, who was connected to what, who was responsible … Can you imagine the criticism that we might have gotten had we given briefings precipitously to people that we later thought were actually suspects in some fashion then? So you’ve tipped them off about the investigation. … We only knew the tip of the iceberg.

And finally, Baker spoke about the press coverage he’s been receiving.

It’s been horrible to be publicly criticized by President Trump in his tweets. It was very unnerving and sort of an out-of-body experience to have the president of the United States tweeting about you and in what I perceived to be a negative light. But at the same time, in a strange way … when the president first started to attack me, and throughout this period, my friends have rallied around me. And so I’ve been extremely fortunate and lucky to, to have that. I’ve made the analogy to feeling like Jimmy Stewart at the end of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’

Well, Mr. Baker , the wheel has turned. The former FBI top lawyer had better get used to the criticism and the scrutiny because he, Comey and many other Obama officials will be forced into the public spotlight over the months to come.

The post Former FBI General Counsel: We Were ‘Quite Worried’ Comey Would Use Dossier To Blackmail Trump appeared first on RedState.

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Barr’s Pick To Lead Russia Collusion Investigation Has Been On The Case Since At Least October

Westlake Legal Group from-russia-with-love-SCREENSHOT-620x346 Barr’s Pick To Lead Russia Collusion Investigation Has Been On The Case Since At Least October william barr Mueller Investigation john durham Jim Jordan james baker Front Page Stories Featured Story FBI and DOJ Corruption david corn Dan Levin Allow Media Exception Abuse of Power

 

It turns out that John Durham, the prosecutor chosen by Attorney General William Barr to lead the probe into the origins of the Trump/Russia Collusion investigation isn’t so new to the case after all.

Real Clear Investigations’ Eric Felten published an excerpt from former FBI General Counsel James Baker’s October 3, 2018 closed testimony before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees. Baker is currently under criminal investigation for possible illegal leaking of classified information to the press.

During questioning by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), it was revealed that John Durham is the prosecutor assigned to Baker’s case.

The following partial transcript (via Real Clear Investigations) from Baker’s October 3, 2018 testimony shows how this was discovered.

Note: David Corn is the Washington Bureau Chief for Mother Jones. He was one of the first journalists to write an article about the Steele Dossier in October 2016. Throughout the summer and fall of 2016, the FBI received various versions of the dossier from different sources. One of those came from David Corn.

Rep. Jordan: Tell me about your relationship with David Corn.

Baker: David is a friend of mine.

Jordan: Tell me about that. A close friend? Long-time friend?

Baker: Long-time friend.

Jordan: When did you first meet Mr. Corn?

Baker: I don’t specifically remember. A long time ago, though.

Jordan: Years ago?

Baker: Years and years and years ago, yeah. Our kids carpooled together. We carpooled with them when our kids were little

Jordan: Prior to the election of – Presidential election of 2016. How many times did you talk with David Corn in the weeks and months prior to election day?

Baker: I don’t remember.

Jordan: Is it fair to say you did talk with Corn?

Baker: Yes, I did, but I just don’t remember how many [times].

Jordan: So did you talk to Mr. Corn about anything that the FBI was working on? Specifically the now infamous Steele dossier?”

Baker’s lawyer, Dan Levin: (interrupts) One second. (Levin and Baker speak privately.)

Levin: I cannot let [Baker] answer these questions right now. You may or may not know, he’s been the subject of a leak investigation which is still – a criminal leak investigation that’s still active at the Justice Department. I’m sorry. I’m cutting off any discussion about conversations with reporters.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC): You’re saying he’s under criminal investigation? That’s why you’re not letting him answer?

Levin: Yes.

Jordan: There is an ongoing investigation by whom?

Levin: The Justice Department.

Jordan: I mean, is the inspector general looking at this or is this—

Levin: No. It’s Mr. John Durham, a prosecutor…I don’t want him talking about conversations he’s had with reporters because I don’t know what the questions are and I don’t know what the answers are right now. Given that there is an ongoing investigation of him for leaks which the Department [of Justice] has not closed, I’m not comfortable letting him answer questions.

This particular excerpt from Baker’s testimony was disclosed in January, and at that point, the name John Durham would have been meaningless to most of us. It is good news that John Durham is already familiar with at least some aspects of the case. I would even say it’s likely he’s been working on the larger investigation for longer than the public has been led to believe.

The post Barr’s Pick To Lead Russia Collusion Investigation Has Been On The Case Since At Least October appeared first on RedState.

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Former FBI General Counsel James Baker Tries to Gaslight Us on the Russia Hoax and it Doesn’t Work

Westlake Legal Group former-fbi-general-counsel-james-baker-tries-to-gaslight-us-on-the-russia-hoax-and-it-doesnt-work Former FBI General Counsel James Baker Tries to Gaslight Us on the Russia Hoax and it Doesn’t Work white house Special Counsel Russia Probe lawfareblog james baker george papadopoulos Front Page Stories Featured Story FBI donald trump democrats Christopher Steele Carter Page Brookings Institute benjamin wittes Allow Media Exception
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Screengrab from https://twitter.com/cspan/status/1126860212802064385

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!”

These are the highlights of his interview, with commentary. The source is this thread:

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.

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The post Former FBI General Counsel James Baker Tries to Gaslight Us on the Russia Hoax and it Doesn’t Work appeared first on RedState.

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