“Not My Investigation”: Former FBI General Counsel Shrugs Off Delay in Turning Over Key Text Message

Former FBI General Counsel  (and now Twitter lawyer) James Baker has long been a lightning rod for critics over the role of the FBI in pushing false Russian collusion claims. Baker did not help himself with those critics yesterday when he took the stand in the trial of Michael Sussmann, former Clinton campaign counsel. After declaring Sussmann a friend, Baker seemed to shrug off the fact that he previously failed to turn over a critical piece of evidence to Special Counsel John Durham because “this is not my investigation. This is your investigation.”

Sussmann faces a single charge under 18 U.S.C. 1001 for lying to the FBI in a meeting with Baker.

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

Sussmann’s choice of Baker was little surprise to critics who have long viewed the former General Counsel as one of those officials who facilitated Russian collusion claims.

On May 4, 2018, Baker resigned from the FBI and joined the Brookings Institution as a fellow. Brookings also featured prominently in developing false collusion claims.  He later joined Twitter as a high-ranking attorney and has been criticized for playing a role in that company’s robust censorship program targeting conservatives and others.

On the stand, Baker explained that he continues to be a friend of Michael Sussmann, who he met during their time together at the Justice Department.

The most striking statement in the testimony arose after Baker was asked about his belated turning over of a key piece of evidence. A text message from Sussmann before their meeting clearly showed Sussmann denying that he was contacting Baker on behalf of any client. He was representing the Clinton campaign and charged the time to the campaign:

“Jim — it’s Michael Sussmann. I have something time-sensitive (and sensitive) I need to discuss. Do you have availability for a short meeting tomorrow? I’m coming on my own — not on behalf of a client or company — want to help the Bureau. Thanks.”

DOJ released exhibits showing Sussmann's texts to FBI Baker

As I previously discussed, the text was a bombshell for the case in directly contradicting Sussmann’s claim that Baker merely misremembered their conversation.

Baker was asked why he never informed Special Counsel John Durham of the text despite the long investigation of Sussmann. Indeed, he did not turn over the text after Sussmann was indicted on September 16th.

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

That came off a lot like “why should I help you?” Even being used as a conduit for a baseless, false allegation by a campaign did not seem to motivate Baker to actively seek to turn over any evidence in his possession. The phone that Baker used in the DOJ was reportedly turned over the Inspector General but Baker admitted that the information was on the cloud and he was able to later locate it. However, the question is how this communication on a key issue under investigation could have skipped the mind or attention of Baker given prior interviews and testimony.

Baker said that he found the message in March and turned it over to his lawyer. That seems like a rather belated discovery.  Alfa bank was under investigation for years, including extensive investigations by Congress, the Mueller investigation and the Durham investigation. Yet, Baker did not previously review his own interactions with Clinton counsel or involvement on either the Steele dossier or Alfa Bank allegations?

Baker specifically testified in 2018 on Russian collusion claims involving the Trump organization and campaign. This included extensive questions about his interaction with Sussmann. In the hearing, Baker told Congress that he “did not recall” if Sussmann said he was representing anyone in the meeting, even though he had a text expressly stating that he was not representing the campaign or anyone else in the meeting. Indeed, Baker testified “I don’t remember knowing why Michael Sussman, for example, was coming into the office.”

Even if Baker continues to maintain that he did not know that Sussmann was working for Clinton at the time of their meeting, it was clear early in the investigation that Sussmann and his partner at Perkins Coie, Marc Elias, were involved in the allegations of a false campaign-driven Russian collusion allegations.

Baker, however, reportedly shrugged off the question and testified “I’m not out to get Michael and this is not my investigation. This is your investigation. If you ask me a question, I answer it.”

In truth, it is the investigation of the United States Department of Justice, where Baker held a top position.

The testimony left the impression that Baker was going to cooperate but could hardly be expected to seek to help the Justice Department in proving a possible crime by Clinton campaign counsel. He indicated that he had to be specifically asked for such information and could not be expected to volunteer it or to seek to confirm evidence in his possession: “Nobody had asked me to go look for this material before that.”

When he came into possession of information from Sussmann, Baker told Congress, “I wanted to get it out of my hands into the hands of agents as quickly as possible.” That did not appear the standard that he applied to evidence in his possession that was material to Durham investigation of the Clinton campaign.

It is just not Baker’s job. After all, this is not his investigation.

185 thoughts on ““Not My Investigation”: Former FBI General Counsel Shrugs Off Delay in Turning Over Key Text Message”

  1. Jonathan: I’m not an attorney but I thought witnesses do not have to volunteer info or documents to the other side. I thought they had to be specifically requested. I was once called as a witness in a case against the company I worked at the time. Our defense attorney told me: ” If you can answer a Q with ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ do that without elaboration. You don’t have to volunteer any info or documents.” I have always thought the Trump/Barr/Durham investigation was a theory in search of a crime. After 3 years Durham has only come up with a single count of lying to the FBI by Sussmann. Slim pickings. So let’s move on to some important news.

    The S&P Dow Jones Indices has just removed Tesla Inc. from its widely-followed S&P 500 ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) Index. The Index cited issues including racial discrimination (Calif. is suing Tesla for racial discrimination at its plant in Fremont) and other issues. Musk was outraged by the announcement: “ESG is a scam. It has been weaponized by phony social justice warriors”. At least we now know how Musk feels about “social justice” issues. Increasingly, investors concerned about diversity and climate have used the S&P 500 ESG criteria to pick stocks. This could not be worse news for Musk who has leveraged his Tesla stock to purchase Twitter. Musk now says the Twitter deal is “on hold” because of his phony claim that Twitter failed to disclose the level of “bots”. Apparently Musk thinks he can pressure Twitter to agree to a lower price since Twitter and Tesla shares have tanked. If Musk eventually closes the deal how will he treat tweets that criticize his racist policies at the Fremont plant? I suspect they will be deleted. What does this say about your claim that Musk will bring back “free speech” to Twitter?

    1. Several states have already passed-ESG legislation as they recognized that ESG is a scam

    2. I’m not an attorney but I thought witnesses do not have to volunteer info or documents to the other side.

      The were both employees of the DoJ…on the same side.

      1. That does not matter. Nobody is required to volunteer any information. Nobody. The law is pretty clear on that.

        1. You are correct. I always tell my clients that they probably know a lot more than the person asking questions, but that it’s not their job to volunteer information that wasn’t asked for. Not only is it not their job, but it’s also not in their best interests to do so. The only exception is discussing things like physical and emotional pain and suffering. I tell my clients to be certain to explain these things in detail. I also tell them that “I don’t know” is the proper answer if they really don’t know, and that attorneys try to push for responses anyway, and try to make the person being questioned feel foolish, but not to fall for it. Another point: if you don’t know what time, how long, how far or other details subject to measurement, then don’t guess, no matter how hard you are pushed. And, never, ever guess.

          1. Natacha: Thanks for the confirmation. I could have used your expertise when I testified in the aforementioned case. The company’s defense attorney never did spend time beforehand reviewing with me company docs the plaintiffs obtained in discovery. During my testimony I was asked by plaintiff’s counsel about a certain company document that was important to their case. I had to plead ignorance. This proved embarrassing for me but not crucial to the case. Was I wrong in later confronting our attorney and complaining why he didn’t spend time reviewing crucial company docs with me before the trial?

            1. I can’t imagine why any lawyer would fail to review important documents in a business matter with a company representative who was going to be deposed. You absolutely should have confronted him or her. I’ve seen this so many times.

    3. “… his racist policies at the Fremont plant?” Accusations, especially in this day and (r)age, are assumed facts by you, judging from your statement. You’ve made assumptions to fit your narrative. Convenient.

  2. We are witnessing the decay of our judicial system, a sure forewarning of both the utter decay of ALL governmental agencies across this land and a symbol for the hopelessness of attempting to restore our nation via the tools of our constitution since those tools have been rendered impotent in light of those tools being wielded by the likes of Baker (who represents most in government service to day, I am afraid.

  3. “Baker seemed to shrug off the fact that he previously failed turned over a critical piece of evidence to Special Counsel John Durham because “this is not my investigation. This is your investigation.” … Baker said that he found the message in March and turned it over to his lawyer.”

    That’s false.

    First, Turley omits that the phone was no longer in Baker’s possession; it was turned over to the FBI years earlier. Second, Durham never asked Baker to search this phone for text message evidence. Third, Durham was on a conference call in 2018 where everyone on the call was informed about the phone being in the OIG’s possession, and earlier this year Durham falsely claimed that the information was new to him:

    In mid-January, Durham submitted a motion to Judge Cooper saying “in early January 2022, the Special Counsel’s Office learned for the first time that the OIG currently possesses two FBI cellphones of the former FBI General Counsel to whom the defendant made his alleged false statement, along with forensic reports analyzing those cellphones.”
    THEN, a couple of weeks later, Durham had to correct that, noting “After reviewing the Special Counsel’s Office’s public filing, the DOJ Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) brought to our attention based on a review of its own records that, approximately four years ago, on February 9, 2018, in connection with another criminal investigation being led by then-Acting U.S. Attorney Durham, an OIG Special Agent who was providing some support to that investigation informed an Assistant United Attorney working with Mr. Durham that the OIG had requested custody of a number of FBI cellphones. OIG records reflect that among the phones requested was one of the two aforementioned cellphones of the then FBI General Counsel. OIG records further reflect that on February 12, 2018, the OIG Special Agent had a conference call with members of the investigative team, including Mr. Durham, during which the cellphones likely were discussed. OIG records also reflect that the OIG subsequently obtained the then-FBI General Counsel’s cellphone on or about February 15, 2018. Special Counsel Durham has no current recollection of that conference call, nor does Special Counsel Durham currently recall knowing about the OIG’s possession of the former FBI General Counsel’s cellphones before January 2022.”

    Gosh, Durham didn’t recall this detail of a phone conversation years ago, but he criticizes Baker for not recalling a different detail from years ago. Hypocrite.

    Also, whether or not it’s “a critical piece of evidence” is disputable, since Durham charged Sussmann for an alleged statement made in a meeting with Baker on 9/19/2016, and the text message is from the day before.

    “Sussmann … was representing the Clinton campaign and charged the time to the campaign”

    Sussmann denies this, and so far, Durham has NOT presented evidence of it, so Turley is just feeding his readers what some want to believe. This is why Turley is criticized by so many: he simply does not care whether he has evidence for a lot of his claims.

    1. Baker found the information on the cloud.

      i.e it was ALWAYS in his possession – regardless of whether the phone was.

      Baker has testified many times – including on this.

      Witnesses are required to prepare themselves to testify on foreseable questions.
      They are also required to correct errors after their testimony.

      Stone was convicted of misstatements to congress – failing to recall exculpatory emails.
      This is worse.

      Either you use the same standards for everyone or you are a hypocrit.

      Baker is more guilty of lying to congress than stone.

    2. You are clueless, The evidence that Sussman was working for the Clinton campaign has been established many ways.

      There was substantial discussion of Perkin’s Coi billing both prior and during testimony.

  4. Meanwhie, no one is saying the obvious. This was a dirty trick started by Hillary and continued with help from the media and Schiff

  5. And soon we will come to understand just how corrupt of an oraganization Twitter actually is.

  6. Geez, Turley sure loves throwing red meat at his ignorant fan base with regard to the Sussman trial. Details are important in a case like this and provide a more accurate context in what Durham has been doing and why his case is so weak.

    First. As Turley knows. Nobody is required to volunteer anything. Even employees of the DOJ. Baker is right that this IS Durham’s investigation, not Baker’s. What Turley leaves out is the fact t that Durham has been missing a lot of deadlines to file for discovery and has been sloppy with his approach. This is why Durham has been at this for three years with hardly anything to show for it except this one charge.

    The statute of limitations ran out for Durham to charge Sussmann AFTER September 18. The meeting with baker was on the 19th and Baker doesn’t recall Sussman mention he was not there on behalf of a client. Durham claims Sussman made that statement in his September 19 meeting which would put it within the statute of limitations. But Durham cannot prove that Sussman actually said that in that meeting.

    Second. Durham is relying on his own conspiracy theories as the basis of his claim, however the charge against Sussman is not conspiracy, but making a false statement.

    Durham has been wasting a lot of time and resources trying to pursue this single charge which is weak at best.

    1. If you think Durham has been wasting a lot of time and resources, we can only imagine what you think about Mueller’s sham “investigation.”

      1. It wasn’t a sham. I’m fact. Mueller’s investigation produced more indictments than Durham in less time.

  7. Baker “failed turned over a critical piece of evidence to Special Counsel John Durham,” by rationalizing: “this is not my investigation. This is your investigation.”

    Could those people be any sleazier?

      1. Baker found the texts on the cloud not the phone.

        This is EXACTLY the same as Stone who failed to recall exculpatory emails when testifying to congress and was convicted for lying to congress.

        When you testify to something – especially when you know the subject matter you are going to be questioned on, it is YOUR duty to prepare, and to correct yourself after the fact should your testimony be in error.

    1. Sam asks:

      “Could those people be any sleazier?”

      Yes. How about Michael Cohen- Trump’s fixer.

      1. I have no idea whether Cohen or Sussman or the rest of Clinton’s “Lawyers” receives the prize for the most foul human.

        But the Clinton Lawyers have done many orders of magnitude more damage.

        And Micheal Cohen is one of their VICTIMS. But for the Clinton Collusion HOAX the Special Counsel would not have been shredding his life.

        That does not make him a good person – but it makes the Clinton lawyers AND the special Counsel even less so.

        Mueller is more polished than Cohen, But Cohen did not use the power of government to attempt to extort lies out of both good and bad people to advance a HOAX.

        Even Mueller is a more foul person that Cohen.

        Cohen negotiated a Non-Disclosure with a porn star. That might be seedy, but it is not immoral, unethical, or abuse of government power.

          1. “Cohen was always more of a legal thug than a competent lawyer.”

            I can agree with that too.

            What he did NOT do is successfully sell a HOAX false criminal claim to the FBI, wasting tens of millions of dollars and deceiving much of the country for years.

            I think Durham is WRONG to charge 18 USC 1001 – I think that statute is unconstitutional. Lying to government is Wrong, but it should not be illegal. Lying under oath is and should be illegal. Making knowingly false criminal complaints is an should be illegal.

            Being a legal thug and an incompetent lawyer is not a crime, however wrong it is.

            All wrongs are not crimes.

            Sussman committed an obvious crime. One of the problems with Durhams 18 USC 1001 charge is that people do not understand why lying to the FBI is a crime, they do understand why KNOWINGLY reporting a crime that never happened to subject someone else to investigation is a crime.

                  1. Few people can make as many errors in as few words as you.

                    It often takes lots of words to address all the error.

                    Further I am not the one who cut and pasted from catholic missals.
                    That is pretty mucht he definition of saying nothing in lots of words.

  8. Baker is eyeballs deep in the conspiracy.

    He is lied under oath during the Congressional Hearings, obstructed justice by not producing that text….and as a FBI Counsel had a duty to report anything that involves criminal misconduct that he encounters as part of this official duties.

    When Sussmann falls….there goes Baker right along with him.

    Then Strozk, Page, McCabe, and Comey, and Rosenstein…..and the Husband/Wife pair providing info to the DOJ from Fusion GPS.

    That is just the DOJ art of the attempted Coup by the Democrats….then there is the Intelligence agencies to deal with…..and then the Democrats like Hillary, Elias, Lynch, and Obama.

  9. Turley says:

    “Baker’s response was telling: “It’s frankly — I’m not out to get Michael and this is not my investigation. This is your investigation.” That came off a lot like “why should I help you?”

    Perhaps Baker believed that Durham was on- dare I say it- a WITCH-HUNT! Why should he aid an investigation he BELIEVED was made in bad faith?

    You Trumpists believed the Mueller investigation was a witch-hunt so you can surely empathize with Baker.

    1. Silberman’s disingenuous commentary continues unabated. Turley unlike you is not a blind ideologue. He has never been a Trumpist; only a slanderer or moron would state that. Someone like you would know what a witch hunt is because that is what your authoritarian party has thrived on for the past 40 years

      1. AlanK,

        Of course, Turley is a NeverTrumper. I’ve always said so. I’m simply mocking you Trumpists by grabbing a page out of Trump’s playbook- smearing an investigation as a “witch-hunt” when it suits you.

    2. Jeff:

      Your comment is disingenuous (at best).

      Law enforcement has obligations to obey the law (and aid its operations).

      You do yourself no favors when you make a dishonest comment.

      1. Monumentcolorado says:

        “You do yourself no favors when you make a dishonest comment.”

        Fortunately, I CAN change and become an honest person, but you will always be an ugly person and that can’t be changed.

      1. M4seroski,

        I’m living in Trump’s world. If you Trumpists can label an official government investigation a “witch-hunt,” so can NeverTrumpers.

        Fair’s fair.

    3. Baker knew it wasn’t a “witch hunt” that title can be properly applied to the Mueller investigation.

      1. PeterK says:

        “Baker knew it wasn’t a “witch hunt” that title can be properly applied to the Mueller investigation.”

        Durham is part of the “Deep State.” Of course, Durham is conducting a witch-hunt. That’s what people are saying- a lot of people. Don’t be so naive.

  10. Not a good look for the practice of law here. If I might transpose from the medical world, it would be like watching a physician, even a close friend and partner, commit obvious malpractice in front of you and not speak up and intervene. “Well, it’s not my patient after all.” And yes, some physicians can also be just as crass and “uninvolved”. You do have a duty and responsibilities. I think that is the other half of having rights.

    1. Lawyers, unlike ordinary people, do take an oath. The oath has been broken by everyone who was involved in this attempt to first interfere with an election, and then to attempt to overthrow a legitimately elected President. Anyone who tries to defend the behavior of these rotten apples is doing a disservice to their fellow Americans and the rule of law.

      Disbarment of all those involved in actions that were far worse than Watergate and far worse in many ways, than the January 6th fiasco, is the first thing that should happen. Too many of those involved, are using their misdeeds as attorneys, to get higher paying jobs than they had at the Dept. of Justice.

  11. It does not matter what the talking heads or operatives think. The folks that matter are on the jury. Period.

    The collapse of the US economy, soaring violent crime, defunding the police mantra, growth of inflation, absence of baby formula, extremist abortionists threatening the Justices, CRT, BLM, grifters in the cottage race industry, Feds attacking parents as terrorists, politicization of the DOJ, FBI, etc, all are on the minds of the members of the jury for they are everyday Americans.

    All roads lead to Hillary.

    1. If only you are right. What happened to the 3 obviously partisan potential jurors, are any of them seated. If so, then a hung jury is the best we can expect.

    2. This just demonstrates the hopeless task of saving this nation via the courts and our constitutional tools. The rot is too deep, like a house whose timbers are rotten.

  12. Republicans need to remove McConnell, Graham and ANYONE that is bipartisan. They need to go totally scorched earth and overhaul federal law enforcement…and re-establish the rule of law

    No political family should be MAKING our government their piggy bank!

  13. until a bunch of DOJ, FBI, NSA, etc Democrats go to jail for the NUMEROUS CRIMES….they are happy to ABUSE POWER!

    When the GOP wins they need to cut 75% of all federal government…including funding of colleges, aid to cities, etc Then remove 50% what is left in DC…to the Heartland

    DC is LOST to Corrupt Democrats!

    OBama/Hillary down…committed treason when they worked with foreigners to overthrow Trumps election and FRAUDLENTLY impeached him for Hillary and Bidens CRIMES!

    1. The dream is 2/3 house majority and just eject all of the democrats,or just a majority and impeach all of then, as well as all the corrupt judges starting with judge Emmett Sullivan.

  14. Power and money that’s what Washington is all about, our money. These people are corrupt and cannot afford to have a President Trump come to town. I still warn they are going to mess with the midterms.

  15. Where has all the good guys gone, the ones who put their Country second in their heart and mind. Growing up most of us always looked towards the FBI as the Superman who fought the bad guys and saved us all. Not anymore.

  16. The putrid smell emanating from the DOJ in general and the FBI in particular is enough to make one ill. It is unlikely that either entity was “corruption free” but this must be unprecedented. The politicization of these agencies is now on the par with a third world country. Of course it started with the Obama administration in which liars like Baker served, But it is even worse now. Garland is a despicable partisan hack and might be the worse AG in modern history. Eric Holder, bad as he was, was a model of professionalism compared to this monster and his henchman,

  17. FBI is a corrupt organization. The DOJ is their boss, also corrupt. Garland has shown his true colors, He is a political operative with a law degree.

    1. Iowan says:

      “FBI is a corrupt organization. The DOJ is their boss, also corrupt.”

      Say it, “Deep State.” Come on; don’t hold back.

      “The Paranoid Style in American Politics”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Paranoid_Style_in_American_Politics

      “Published soon after Senator Barry Goldwater won the Republican presidential nomination over the more moderate Nelson A. Rockefeller, Hofstadter’s article explores the influence of a particular style of conspiracy theory and “movements of suspicious discontent” throughout American history.”

    1. Baker resigned so he wouldn’t be fired. He lied to the IG. He resigned. Because IG’s can only compel testimony from current employee’s, Resigning, protected himself from another toothless IG investigation, and saved his pension.

  18. And here in a nutshell, we have the politicization of the FBI.

    What happened to being non-partizan?

    Until a new director cleans house, the FBI will continue to be an untrustworthy organization.

    As is the DOJ.

      1. Trump should start doing background checks and interviewing replacements for all the top administrators of the DOJ, FBI,IRS,CIA,etc,etc,etc…… Also the SSCI needs to either limited in power or done away, their power over security clearances ruined Trump’s first presidency.

        1. I am sorry to note that Trump had horrid judgement in selecting personnel. He was the one who selected Wray. He selected Powell for the Fed and other than Pompeo and perhaps Munchin his picks were pretty much right out of the swamp. Barr seemed to do little to clean the DOJ house. Trump’s indifference to appointees at the second tier were even worse and no match for the swamp. In contrast Biden’s handlers have effectively staffed the administration with the most virulent leftists every to obtain positions of power. I dont think Trump would act any differently if reelected

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