Former FBI General Counsel Shrugs Off Delay in Turning Over Key Text Message – JONATHAN TURLEY


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Former FBI General Counsel  (and now Twitter lawyer) James Baker as lengthy been a lightning rod for critics over the position of the FBI in pushing false Russian collusion claims. Baker didn’t assist himself with these critics yesterday when he took the stand in the trial of Michael Sussmann, former Clinton marketing campaign counsel. After declaring Sussmann a buddy, Baker appeared to shrug off the truth that he beforehand failed turned over a vital piece of proof to Special Counsel John Durham as a result of “this isn’t my investigation. This is your investigation.”

Sussmann faces a single cost beneath 18 U.S.C. 1001 for mendacity to the FBI in a gathering with Baker.

In the indictment, Sussmann is accused of “mak[ing] a materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent assertion or illustration” in conversations with Baker. Durham argued that “the defendant supplied the FBI General Counsel with purported knowledge and ‘white papers’ that allegedly demonstrated a covert communications channel between the Trump Organization and a Russia-based financial institution.”

Sussmann’s selection of Baker was little shock for critics who’ve lengthy seen the previous General Counsel as a type of officers who facilitated Russian collusion claims.

On May 4, 2018, Baker resigned from the FBI and joined the Brookings Institution as a fellow. Brookings additionally featured prominently in creating false collusion declares.  He later joined Twitter as a high-ranking lawyer and has been criticized for enjoying a job in that firm’s sturdy censorship program concentrating on conservatives and others.

On the stand, Baker defined that he continues to be a buddy of Michael Sussmann, who he met throughout their time collectively on the Justice Department.

What was most placing assertion arose after Baker was requested about his belated turning over of a key piece of proof. A textual content message from Sussmann earlier than their assembly clearly confirmed Sussmann denying that he was contacting Baker on behalf of any shopper. He was representing the Clinton marketing campaign and charged the time to the marketing campaign:

“Jim — it’s Michael Sussmann. I’ve one thing time-sensitive (and delicate) I would like to debate. Do you may have availability for a brief assembly tomorrow? I’m coming by myself — not on behalf of a shopper or firm — wish to assist the Bureau. Thanks.”

DOJ released exhibits showing Sussmann's texts to FBI Baker

As I previously mentioned, the textual content was a bombshell for the case in instantly contradicting Sussmann’s declare that Baker merely misremembered their dialog.

Baker was requested why he by no means knowledgeable Special Counsel John Durham of the textual content regardless of the lengthy investigation of Sussmann. Indeed, he didn’t flip over the textual content after Sussmann was indicted on September sixteenth.

Baker’s response was telling: “It’s frankly — I’m not out to get Michael and this isn’t my investigation. This is your investigation.”

That got here off lots like “why ought to I enable you?” Even getting used as a conduit for a baseless, false allegation by a marketing campaign didn’t appear to encourage Baker to actively search to show over any proof in his possession.

Baker stated that he discovered the message in March and turned it over to his lawyer. That looks like a fairly belated discovery.  Alfa financial institution was beneath investigation for years, together with intensive investigations by Congress, the Mueller investigation and the Durham investigation. Yet, Baker didn’t beforehand assessment his personal interactions with Clinton counsel or involvement on both the Steele file or Alfa Bank allegations?

Baker specifically testified in 2018 on Russian collusion claims involving the Trump group and marketing campaign. This embody intensive questions on his interplay with Sussmann. In the listening to, Baker instructed Congress that he “didn’t recall” if Sussmann stated he was representing anybody in the assembly, regardless that he had a textual content expressly stating that he was not representing the marketing campaign or anybody else in the assembly. Indeed, Baker testified “I don’t bear in mind figuring out why Michael Sussman, for instance, was coming into the workplace.”

Even if Baker continues to keep up that he didn’t know that Sussmann was working for Clinton on the time of their assembly, it was clear early in the investigation that Sussmann and his companion at Perkins Coie, Marc Elias, had been concerned in the allegations of a false campaign-driven Russian collusion allegations.

Baker, nonetheless, reportedly shrugged off the query and testified “I’m not out to get Michael and this isn’t my investigation. This is your investigation. If you ask me a query, I reply it.”

In reality, it’s the investigation of the United States Department of Justice, the place Baker held a prime place.

The testimony left the impression that Baker was going to cooperate however may hardly be anticipated to hunt to assist the Justice Department in proving a attainable crime by Clinton marketing campaign counsel. He indicated that he needed to be particularly requested for such data and couldn’t be anticipated to volunteer it or to hunt to substantiate proof in his possession: “Nobody had requested me to go search for this materials earlier than that.”

When he got here into possession of data from Sussmann, Baker instructed Congress, “I needed to get it out of my fingers into the fingers of brokers as shortly as attainable.” That didn’t seem the usual that he utilized to proof in his possession that was materials to Durham investigation of the Clinton marketing campaign.

It is simply not Baker’s job. After all, this isn’t his investigation.

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