News & Politics

GOP Lawmakers: Top FBI Lawyer James Baker Gave 'Explosive' Testimony on Russia Probe

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., left, and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

The FBI’s former top lawyer, general counsel James Baker, revealed “explosive” information regarding the Russia probe during his closed-door deposition with House investigators Wednesday, according to two Republican lawmakers, Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), both leaders in the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

For nearly a year, the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees have been probing the FBI’s investigations of the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia and former secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

According to Fox News’ Catherine Herridge, the lawmakers divulged that Baker, who left the bureau earlier this year, admitted that the FBI handled the Russia investigation in an “abnormal fashion” reflecting “political bias.”

Baker also provided new information about a heretofore undisclosed source who worked directly with the FBI on the Russia case.

“Some of the things that were shared were explosive in nature,” Rep. Meadows told Fox News. “This witness confirmed that things were done in an abnormal fashion. That’s extremely troubling.”

Meadows claimed the “abnormal” handling of the probe into alleged coordination between Russian officials and the Trump presidential campaign was “a reflection of inherent bias that seems to be evident in certain circles.” The FBI agent who opened the Russia case, Peter Strzok, FBI lawyer Lisa Page and others sent politically charged texts, and have since left the bureau.

Baker, who reportedly had “a close working relationship” with fired FBI Director James Comey, “was cooperative and forthcoming” about the FBI’s counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign, and provided insight into the FBI’s problematic FISA warrant application to spy on campaign aide Carter Page in October 2016,  the lawmakers told Fox News. Baker helped secure the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant on Page, as well as three subsequent renewals.

“During the time that the FBI was putting — that DOJ and FBI were putting together the FISA (surveillance warrant) during the time prior to the election — there was another source giving information directly to the FBI, which we found the source to be pretty explosive,” said Rep. Jordan.

Meadows and Jordan would not elaborate on the source, or answer questions about whether the source was a reporter. They did stress that the source who provided information to the FBI’s Russia case was not previously known to congressional investigators.

Because Baker is one of the key players in the FBI’s surveillance machinations in 2016,  his testimony “lays the groundwork for next week’s planned closed-door interview with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein,” according to Fox.

Rosenstein is expected to testify on Capitol Hill for a closed-door interview with House investigators on Oct. 11.

It comes after The New York Times reported last month that he’d discussed secretly recording the president and removing him from office using the 25th Amendment. Rosenstein’s planned in-person meeting with Trump has been pushed off amid speculation he might be fired or resign.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Wednesday that the meeting has not yet been scheduled.

“If there’s a meeting, we’ll let you know,” she said. “But at this point, they continue to work together and both show up every day and do their jobs.”

Rosenstein has also agreed to meet with the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), a Justice Dept. official told Fox News.

There will be a second session for Baker, who had a personal and FBI lawyer with him for Wednesday’s deposition, congressional sources said.

During an appearance on Fox News last month, former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Joe diGenova, gave the first inkling that Baker had flipped.

“I know that there is a grand jury underway, testimony is being taken about Strzok, Page, McCabe and others involved in this case, and the reason we know it is that James Baker, the former general counsel of the FBI, has turned state’s evidence and is fully co-operating with the inspector general and the federal Grand Jury,” diGenova said confidently. “I can assure you, Mr. Comey has been very silent in recent weeks, and the reason is very simple: he knows he’s going to be indicted.”