The FBI’s former general counsel has been under criminal investigation for leaking information to the media, according to a letter from two House Republicans.
The letter from Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, dated Tuesday, concerned James Baker, according to Fox News.
The letter was sent to John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, and concerned comments from Daniel Levin, Baker’s lawyer, that were made to a House committee last fall.
“You may or may not know, (Baker has) been the subject of a leak investigation … a criminal leak investigation that’s still active at the Justice Department,” Levin said then in response to questions from lawmakers about whether Baker communicated with reporters.
“You’re saying he’s under criminal investigation? That’s why you’re not letting him answer?” Meadows asked.
Levin said this was so, later adding, “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 answer are right now. Given that there is an ongoing investigation of him for leaks, which the Department has not closed, I’m not comfortable letting him answer questions.”
Last Friday, a New York Times story said the FBI began an investigation of President Donald Trump after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey. The investigation was allegedly to discover if Trump was working on behalf of Russia. In its story, The Times quoted from Baker’s October 2018 closed-door testimony to the House.
“Not only would it be an issue of obstructing an investigation, but the obstruction itself would hurt our ability to figure out what the Russians had done, and that is what would be the threat to national security,” Baker said then, according to The Times.
In December 2017, The Washington Post reported that Baker had been reassigned. The Post said Baker was “caught up” in an investigation although he was not its target and that the probe ended with no charges.
However, Politico reported that Baker “communicated with Mother Jones reporter David Corn in the weeks leading up to the November 2016 election.” Corn was among the first to report about the existence of a dossier of scurrilous and unsubstantiated information regarding Trump.
The letter from Jordan and Meadows said, “The Committees learned that in some instances, high-ranking DOJ and FBI officials, including … James Baker … and … Bruce Ohr, took the self-described ‘unusual’ step of inserting themselves into the evidentiary chain of custody.”
Among Baker’s advocates was Comey, who — in speaking of Baker — said, “Sadly, we are now at a point in our political life when anyone can be attacked for partisan gain.”
Baker left the FBI in May 2018.
Fox News quoted what it said was “a source familiar with the U.S. Attorney investigation” as saying that the investigation of Baker began during the administration of former President Barack Obama, and was still open.
The Republican lawmakers said in the letter they did not want to step on an active criminal probe.
“As we continue our oversight and investigative work, we felt it prudent to write to you seeking an update,” Jordan and Meadows wrote. “Without being apprised of the contours of your leak investigation and Baker’s role, we run the risk of inadvertently interfering with your prosecutorial plans.”
The letter noted that the request was part of the Republicans’ effort to identify leaks within the Justice Department, citing former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired for leaking information.
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