Congressional investigators revealed a top official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) met with Democratic Party lawyers to discuss allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. James A. Baker, former general counsel for the FBI, met with at least one attorney from Perkins Coie during the 2016 season.
That places the meetings before the FBI secured a search warrant targeting Trump’s campaign. The Justice Department (DOJ) previously released documents used to justify the FISA warrant application to spy against Carter Page, a former and peripheral campaign adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump.
Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allows intelligence agencies to collect information on foreign targets abroad. It also created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), a secret court critics say serves as a rubber stamp for federal prosecutors and intelligence agencies.
The heavily-redacted documents on their own already confirmed crucial and disturbing details of the memo prepared by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and other Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). That includes the allegation that the FBI and DOJ relied upon the infamous and discredited dossier put together by former MI6 British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, , identified as Source #1.
It also revealed the FBI and DOJ misled the FISC.
In fact, it’s clear they went out of their way to not fully disclose the political nature of the dossier, their use of circular reporting to support it and that much of the information in it is materially false. The dossier was funded by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the campaign for Hillary Clinton, identified as Political Party #2 and Candidate #2.
Yet, the FBI did not tell the FISC that Political Party #2 and Candidate #2 paid for the dossier as political opposition research against Candidate #1.
The DNC and Clinton campaign used Perkins Coie to hire the shadowy smear firm Fusion GPS, who in turn hired Mr. Steele. The former spy of the Russia desk at MI6 almost exclusively used Kremlin sources to gather the information he then fed to DOJ officials Bruce Ohr. But they funded the operation and failed to properly disclose those payments, which is precisely the subject of a complaint at the Federal Elections Commission (FEC).
But congressional investigators uncovered a direct link from Democratic operatives to the FBI during questioning behind closed doors. Mr. Baker identified Democratic lawyer Michael Sussman, a former DOJ lawyer, as the Perkins Coie attorney who reached out to him. He said the firm gave him documents and a thumb drive related to Russian interference in the 2016 election, hacking and a possible connection to Donald Trump.
Representative Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, called what he heard “explosive.” Information gathered separately by another congressional committee indicate the contact occurred in September, the month before the FISA warrant was approved.
Mr. Baker, who resigned from the FBI, had been the subject of an investigation conducted by the DOJ Office of Inspector General. He was reassigned in late 2017 after information uncovered indicated he was leaking classified information about the so-called “Trump dossier.”
It was also revealed that he had ties to a journalist who wrote about the debunked, unverified opposition research document that sparked allegations claiming the Trump campaign had connection to Russia.
He is reportedly considering a job at the Brookings Institution, a left-leaning Washington D.C. think tank.
The Hill reported Mr. Baker’s interview “broke new ground both about the FBI’s use of news media in 2016 and 2017 to further the Trump case and about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s conversations in spring 2017 regarding possible use of a body wire to record Trump.”