Two important articles out by the Washington Examiner make it clear that inside members of the “small group” behind the “Big Ugly” are now terrified. So much so that they are now trying to get out “in front” of what they know is coming….indictments and perp walks.
“In front of a packed room at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. on Friday, Baker was prompted (by Wittes) to discuss the Trump dossier compiled by ex-British spy Christopher Steele. The research was cited in the warrant applications, despite being largely unverified…
At issue are the applications’ lack of information about the Democrats who paid for the creation of the dossier, as well as Steele’s anti-Trump bias when the bureau applied to spy on Carter Page…
“You don’t want to put into a document like this gratuitous information about U.S. persons,” Baker said moderator Benjamin Wittes. “You want to try to minimize it, to some extent. If it’s important. If the assessment is that the identity is critically important and you need it to either follow the flow of the information … then you might put the person’s name in.”
Are you getting this, folks? In a pre-planned public event, Wittes is leading Baker through a series of comments designed to minimize what Comey, Baker, and McCabe did in obtaining FISA warrants. Here they are defending NOT including information about who PAID for the Steele Dossier in the FISA warrant application.
During the event Friday, Baker stressed that he examined the FISA warrant applications on Page before they got signed and sent to the court. He said he was “comfortable” with their contents and was confident that the process remained “lawful.”
Baker was appointed FBI general counsel in January 2014 and reassigned by FBI Director Christopher Wray in December 2017. Last year, it was reported that Baker was resigning, and since has been employed by Benjamin’s Wittes’ Lawfare blog and joined the R Street Institute.
Ex-top FBI lawyer James Baker admits he is ‘nervous’ about DOJ inspector general
Former FBI General Counsel James Baker admitted on Friday that he is “nervous” about DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s investigation into the conduct of the DOJ and the FBI during the Trump-Russia probe.
Sitting down with with Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes in a crowded room at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., Baker said he is “assuming that they will dig and find stuff” and that “…. mistakes were made.” But Baker defended the FBI’s actions, including its use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Horowitz’s investigation is particularly focused on alleged FISA abuse and the reliance on British ex-spy Christopher Steele in FISA applications targeting Trump campaign associate Carter Page. Steele’s dossier was funded in part by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign through the Perkins Coie law firm and the opposition research group Fusion GPS. The investigation is expected to finish in May or June.
Wittes said that Baker “had expressed great confidence in the way you guys conducted yourselves, in the integrity of these fundamental judgments, in the opening with respect to two separate investigations and with the respect to the handling of this FISA application.” Wittes then asked Baker: “So, how nervous are you about the IG?”
Baker said he is “always nervous about the IG,” adding that “they’re coming in after the fact to look at what we did.” At the time, he said, the FBI was “trying to do it in real time and having the pressure to deal with these threats as they were coming.”
Baker contended that he was “confident in the judgments that I made at the time based on the information that I had available to me.” But he left open the possibility that others may have engaged in wrongdoing, saying, “I’m sure they will find things that I didn’t know at the time and maybe that others didn’t know at the time.”
“There were facts that existed in the Bureau that were known by certain people that weren’t known by others including me, that’s certainly possible and that happens frequently,” Baker said. “And so, I’m assuming that they will dig and find stuff like that.”
Baker said the FBI was careful in the way it used Steele’s reporting. “We have an obligation to take that information seriously and to be highly skeptical … You go to work … You try to validate it … We don’t just swallow it hook, line, and sinker. … We spent a lot of time trying to vet that information line by line,” he said.
“We are the Federal Bureau of Investigations, not the Federal Bureau of Conclusions,” Baker said defensively.
Baker mentioned that he’s faced investigations before. “I’ve been investigated — or matters that I’ve worked on have been investigated — many times by the Inspector General. It’s not a pleasant process. It’s just not. The people are pleasant but the process is not the most enjoyable,” he said.
Baker may have been referring to an alleged criminal leaks investigation that had been opened on him, which had been reported on as early as December 2017. He confirmed the existence of an investigation but declined to provide many specifics, saying, “Yes there is an investigation with respect to matters in which I was involved that is still open that I have cooperated fully with. I met with the investigative team for many hours over many days. That took place about a year and a half ago.”
“I haven’t heard anything since then … other than to hear from the Department that the matter is still open.” Baker said. “I am confident that I did nothing wrong and nothing illegal.”
As the event ended, Baker summed up his thoughts on all of these investigations. “Hindsight is 20/20,” he remarked.