Transcript Released of Top FBI Lawyer During Clinton, Trump-Russia Probe
Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., releases transcript of FBI General Counsel James Baker
Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., has released an explosive transcript of former FBI General Counsel James Baker on Tuesday, as part of a string of similar revelations by the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee.
The newly released 152-page transcript is from a closed-door interview that Baker gave on Oct. 3, 2018.
“The Americans deserve transparency, and they deserve to know what transpired at the highest levels of the FBI and the origin of the probe into President Trump’s campaign," Collins said.
Baker held a significant role during two high-profile investigations — the Clinton investigation and the Trump-Russia investigation between 2014 and 2018.
But no charges ultimately being filed on the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s server.
Baker described Clinton’s behavior as “alarming” and “appalling" during his testimony.
Baker added he “argued with others about why they thought she shouldn’t be charged," despite agreeing with he decided not to charge her.
Baker noted that the exchanges between FBI special agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, he was “quite alarmed” and “concerned about is whether any decisions had been taken — or not taken — in the Midyear case that was driven by political bias of any sort.”
According to The Washington Examiner: The FBI’s investigation of Russian interference and its possible ties to Trump or Trump associates, dubbed Crossfire Hurricane, would ultimately carry over into special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation which concluded in March with no charges of criminal collusion.
Baker declared he was “concerned” about the investigation, saying it was “novel” and “highly unusual.”
Baker further testified that in 2016 he met with Michael Sussmann, a lawyer from Perkins Coie, who gave him general information from “cyber experts” not linked to the dossier but still associated to the Trump-Russia investigation.
Perkins Coie was the law firm hired by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential election.
It’s the same firm that hired Fusion GPS, which then, in turn, hired ex-British spy Christopher Steele, whose notorious memos were used in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications against at least one Trump associate.
When asked if an outside counsel had ever before tried to pass along information to him as general counsel to then pass along to the FBI, Baker replied, “That’s the only one I can remember.”
Baker said he passed Sussman’s information to either Strzok or former assistant director of the FBI's counterintelligence division Bill Priestap.
Baker Testimony Redacted by on Scribd
He said Sussman told him that he’d given the information to the New York Times as well.
Beyond his contacts with Perkins Coie, Baker also admitted talking with at least one journalist about these issues in 2016, testifying that he repeatedly spoke with David Corn, whom he called a “long-time friend.”
Corn is a journalist at Mother Jones who wrote an article titled “A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump” on Oct. 31, 2016 — just days before the 2016 presidential election.
Baker said, “David had part of what is now referred to as the Steele dossier, and he talked to me about that and wanted to provide that to the FBI.” Baker said Corn passed along a portion of the dossier to Baker, who, just as he did with Sussman’s info, then handed it over to Priestap.
Baker said he reviewed the "probable cause" portion of the FISA application against Carter Page.
He said he didn’t normally get involved with the FISA approval process, but that he “wanted to make sure that we were filming something that would adhere to the law and stand up over time.”
In his testimony, Baker also revealed that, at a meeting in the wake of the firing of FBI Director James Comey, Page and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe both told him that they took Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s suggestion that he “wear a wire” to record conversations with President Trump seriously.
Rosenstein has denied this account, while sources told NBC News that he was only joking about secretly recording the president.
Baker also referred to the "25th Amendment conversation” at that meeting on whether to invoke the amendment to remove President Trump from office, and said that he was told that at the time "two members of the Cabinet were willing to go down this road already."
He did not elaborate on who the two Cabinet members were.
While speaking on the floor of the House announcing the release of this transcript on Tuesday, Collins made it clear that he “will continue to work to release as many transcripts as possible, including the entirety of Mr. Baker’s interview with the Judiciary Committee. The American people deserve the truth.”
In recent weeks, Collins has released transcripts of the congressional interviews of Strzok, Page, Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, his wife, and Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr, former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, and former assistant director of the FBI's counterintelligence division Bill Priestap.