Six Degrees from James Baker: A Familiar Figure Reemerges With the Release of the Twitter Files

Below is my column in the New York Post on the reemergence of James Baker, the former FBI general counsel, at the center of the Twitter suppression scandal.

Here is the column:

As thousands of Twitter documents are released on the company’s infamous censorship program, much has been confirmed about the use of back channels by Biden and Democratic officials to silence critics on the social media platform. However, one familiar name immediately popped out in the first batch of documents released through journalist Matt Taibbi: James Baker. For many, James Baker is fast becoming the Kevin Bacon of the Russian collusion scandals.

Baker has been featured repeatedly in the Russian investigations launched by the Justice Department, including the hoax involving the Russian Alfa Bank. When Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann wanted to plant the bizarre false claim of a secret communications channel between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, Baker was his go-to, speed-dial contact. (Baker would later testify at Sussmann’s trial). Baker’s name also appeared prominently in controversies related to the other Russian-related FBI allegations against Trump. He was effectively forced out due to his role and reportedly found himself under criminal investigation. He became a defender of the Russian investigations despite findings of biased and even criminal conduct. He was also a frequent target of Donald Trump on social media, including Twitter. Baker responded with public criticism of Trump for his “false narratives.”

After leaving the FBI, Twitter seemed eager to hire Baker as deputy general counsel. Ironically, Baker soon became involved in another alleged back channel with a presidential campaign. This time it was Twitter that maintained the non-public channels with the Biden campaign (and later the White House). Baker soon weighed in with the same signature bias that characterized the Russian investigations.

Weeks before the 2020 presidential election, the New York Post ran an explosive story about a laptop abandoned by Hunter Biden that contained emails and records detailing a multimillion dollar influence peddling operation by the Biden family. Not only was Joe Biden’s son Hunter and brother James involved in deals with an array of dubious foreign figures, but Joe Biden was referenced as the possible recipient of funds from these deals.

The Bidens had long been accused of influence peddling, nepotism, and other forms of corruption. Moreover, the campaign was not denying that the laptop was Hunter Biden’s and key emails could be confirmed from the other parties involved. However, at the request of the “Biden team” and Democratic operatives, Twitter moved to block the story. It even suspended those who tried to share the allegations with others, including the White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who was suspended for linking to the scandal.

Even inside Twitter, the move raised serious concerns over the company serving as a censor for the Biden campaign. Global Comms Brandon Borrman who asked if  the company could “truthfully claim that this is part of the policy” for barring posts and suspending users.

Baker quickly jumped in to support the censorship and said that “it’s reasonable for us to assume that they may have been [hacked] and that caution is warranted.”

Keep in mind that there was never any evidence that this material was hacked. Moreover, there was no evidence of Russian involvement in the laptop. Indeed, U.S. intelligence quickly rejected the Russian disinformation claim.

However, Baker insisted that there was a “reasonable” assumption that Russians were behind another major scandal. Faced with a major scandal implicating a Joe Biden in the corrupt selling of access to foreign figures (including some with foreign intelligence associations), Baker’s natural default was to kill the story and stop others from sharing the allegations.

The released documents may show why Twitter was so eager to hire Baker despite his role in the Russian collusion controversies. What likely would have been a liability for most companies seemed an actual draw for Twitter. For censors and political operatives in Twitter, Baker likely seemed like a “made man” for a company committed to systemic censorship. He would be working with the chief legal officer at the company, Vijaya Gadde, who functioned as the company’s chief censor.  Gadde was widely reviled by free speech advocates for her dismissal of free speech principles and open political bias.

Not unexpectedly, Gadde and Baker would play prominent roles in the suppression of the Hunter Biden scandal. There was hardly a need to round up “the usual suspects” in the suppression scandal when Musk took over the company. Both lawyers swatted down internal misgivings to bury a story that could well have made the difference in the close 2020 election.

It is striking how many of the figures and institutions involved in Russian collusion claims are within six degrees of James Baker. Not only did Baker work closely with fired FBI director James Comey and other key figures at the Justice Department, but he was an acquaintance of key Clinton figures like Sussmann who pushed the false collusion allegations. He was also hired by Brookings Institution, which also has a curious Bacon-like role in the origins and development of the false Russian collusion allegations.

None of these means that Baker was the driving force of the scandals. To the contrary, Baker earned his bones in Washington as a facilitator, a reliable ally when it came to the business of the Beltway. It is hardly a surprise that Baker found a home at Twitter where “caution” was always “warranted” in dealing with potentially damaging stories for Democratic interests.

326 thoughts on “Six Degrees from James Baker: A Familiar Figure Reemerges With the Release of the Twitter Files”

  1. “There’s nothing to see here!” Lt. Frank Drebin called out when people wanted to see the fiery blaze. “It’s a far right-wing conspiracy! It’s a formerly great reporter playing Robin to Muskman. It’s old news now, no one cares, and it won’t move the needle, so why report on it? There’s nothing to see here America, move on dot org!”

  2. Hypothetical here. Let’s say Jonathan had private nude pictures of his wife on his private laptop and brought that laptop in to a local shop for repair. If he forgot to pick up and pay for his laptop on time, would the repair shop owner be free to send the pictures to the internet, and would twitter be within their rights to block the publication of the naked pictures of Turley’s wife? Would it be a scandal if Turley asked twitter to take down naked pictures of his wife?

    If not, why would Hunter not be afforded the same consideration?

    1. Do you honestly believe the Post wanted to publish naked photos and not the emails and text messages that flatly refuted the nominee’s assertion that he was uninvolved in Hunter’s questionable foreign deals very thinly veiled as compensation for work?

      1. “Do you honestly . . .”

        Obviously a rhetorical question. And the obvious answer is: No.

        This particular sock puppet deceives people by the ancient art of deflection.

    2. Hunter signed the document where he left his laptops that stated if he abandoned them for more than 90 days that they would become property of the shop.

      The laptops became the property of the shop and the shop owner can do what he wants with it.

      Good try though.

    3. Thoughtless Exercise. let’s say the NY Times had a laptop with pictures of Trump’s son smoking crack with hookers, do you think they would release it? Do you think NBC News (remember the Trump tape recorded private talk right before the 2016 election) would release it?

      It isn’t naked pictures that is the issue, it is 10% for the Big Guy. It is the VPs son traveling on AF2 to make deals with the CCP. It is the VP firing a prosecutor looking into an oil company in Ukraine that is giving his son 80,000 dollars a MONTH. It is Biden’s brother getting millions for deals in Iraq. It is the DNC and the DOJ getting Twitter to censor real stories. GET IT…partisan hack?

    4. no one would care about someones nude photos. As far as the Bidens corruption and bribery scams over the years, tris is exactly how most criminals are caught. By being stupid or making mistakes.

    5. Take down the privacy perversions, but leave up the influence peddling. The old Twitter’s ethics and morality were deficient. Perhaps the new Twitter’s will not be.

    6. Hunter was the side show used by the left to dismiss the laptop as a distraction. The “Big Guy” portion is very much our business.

  3. I know Musk announced he would have a panel with diverse points of view making decisions about banning or unbanning accounts. That did not happen and we really do not know how decisions are being made now under Musk or what standards they are using. Musk is now an unaccountable dictator.

    If you want a scandal, start there. Don’t let Musk distract us by pointing to his version of what happened under prior twitter administration, particularly where they do not have access to emails to put things in context. It sounds like they had a more open process and discussed things and reasoning while now Musk or someone just announces it is so.

    1. OR it takes one principled man to break through the web of lies perpetuated by Twitter’s nasty little Politburo of wannabe masters of the universe.
      Can people like you start thinking and questioning for once in your life? This country has been on a rollercoaster of lies and deception for over 20 years now and it has hung palpably in the air since 9/11. Admit that things aren’t all well and stop accepting narratives concocted by the powerful and welcome any attempt to reveal the truth.

    2. Musk is not a dictator. The word you’re looking for is “owner”. Furthermore, this is not Musk’s version of events, it’s Taibbi’s. Musk has given him unfettered access to all of Twitter’s internal comms. What he’s doing is called reporting.

    3. Musk banned Ye because of alleged “incitement to violence.” Offensive though Ye’s antisemitic tweets have been, they are not “incitement to violence” as that term is generally understood. Once you start censoring offensive speech you are on a slippery slope that inevitably will involve picking and choosing from among different viewpoints. While I applaud Musk for his transparency about Twitter’s past decisions, I am puzzled by what he hunks he is doing in terms of censorship now that he is in charge.

    4. Last night on the Q&A it was emphasized the NEW Twitter has done more to eliminate child exploitation accounts in 1 month than OLD Twitter had ever done, despite those accounts being reported repeatedly. OLD Twitter said those accounts didn’t violate their TOS.

      Tell me what’s worse – child exploitation accounts running unchecked on Twitter (which OLD Twitter finally acknowledged) or Musk concentrating on getting Twitter healthy (his words) and getting rid of BOTS and scammers?

    5. “. . . his version . . .”

      “His” version?! The communications indict themselves — as do their actions.

      Atack the messenger — can’t the Left come up with a more original smear campaign?

  4. Baker is like a guy who once arrested is subject to a thorough interrogation. They ask him the same question many times to see if he can keep his story straight. Sooner or later he can’t remember all his lies and his story won’t line up. This process is used to detect criminal behavior. We will get a chance to see if Baker’s story lines up when he appears before the house Judiciary Committee. We should remember that just like any other criminal he knew he was lying from the very start. The common criminal and Baker do these things because they lack a moral foundation. Consequently they should end up where they end up. A crook is a crook. The crooks in the fancy suits are the worst because they have the ability to do so much more damage. Thank you for what you did to the nation Mr. Baker.

  5. It’s now painfully obvious that firing the James Baker and Lois Lerner types is useless. Their crime bosses at the DNC can always set them up with cushy rewards in the private sector after the fact.

    Prison might tap the breaks on what is happening in the District of Corruption, but that presents another problem. No D.C. jury will convict a Democrat for harming Republicans. We have to admit that that is what emboldens these political conspiracies.

    The problem is locating so many functions of the federal government in the same place. The biases and bad habits of those government employees start to take over the whole community. The government eventually comes to represent a hostile occupation of the whole country by a remote bureaucracy subject only to its own standards.

    We break up the military into bases in separate states and make those personnel transfer frequently so that cults of personality can’t develop in our military. That system has worked well for 230 years to keep politics out of the military, but the recent concentration of military leadership in the Pentagon has increasingly created a class of political troublemakers like Milley and Gilday–as one might expect.

    I suggest that D.C.’s offices (including the Pentagon) be broken up so that they are part of communities for which equal protection still means something and juries will punish malfeasance. For that to happen, the GOP has to win back the Whitehouse and Congress and convince the American people of the necessity for this breakup.

    Will this make the government less efficient? I have a better question. Since when has efficiency ever been a thing with the government?

    1. Were I the President, I’d want my Secretary of Defense and Chair of the Joint Chiefs right by my elbow, along with my Secretary of State (unless they were off globe-trotting), Attorney General, and Secretary of the Treasury. And I’d want all of them to have enough staff to do whatever was needed and give the best advice they could. So a concentration of bureaucracy in the capital seems inevitable.

      The military is a good example because they have a program to rotate staff so they develop to handle command and staff positions as their careers progress and some eventually become general officers. Milley served one term as Chief of Staff of the Army and is near the end of one term as Joint Chiefs Chair. Gilday is serving a term as CNO. That’s nothing out of the ordinary. Both are tasked with serving their Secretary of Defense and President. Observers can grade anyone in any position from A to F, and Milley probably deserves a D-, but the “hostile occupation” is coming from above, not below.

      During WWII, there certainly had to be a “concentration of military leadership in the Pentagon” with Marshall at the top — what incredible service to his President, the nation, and the world! At the same time, his contemporary MacArthur is a counterexample to the idea that a cult of personality never developed in the U. S. military.

      1. I appreciate the sincerity of your comments, but in the era of Zoom, I think we can be more flexible about where federal employees are posted.

        I thought about MacArthur as I was writing my comment, but he was rarely in D.C. and the brass stayed out of his quarrel with Truman. Ike actually hated MacArthur. Mac was pretty good at wrecking his own cult of personality.

        I have no quarrel with your comment about Marshall. I suggest he was loved in part because he stayed above politics.

        I also agree with your low rating of Milley. A really disappointing officer.

  6. I think it is fair to say the New York Post – owned by the Murdochs who coordinated with the Trumps constantly in their news coverage with their hosts even speaking at his rallies- got their story from Trump’s lawyer who received a stolen laptop and could have added anything he wanted to it. And much of what the Post published was photos – nude and otherwise – which appeared to be private and stolen.

    So call me skeptical even if it turns out the Russians were not involved, and twitter should have been skeptical too.

    1. Stop with the stolen laptop. It was never stolen. A crackhead dropped it off for repairs but was too busy chasing the next high to go back and get it.

    2. It is not fair to say that the laptop was stolen because there’s absolutely no evidence of that.

      The first thing John Paul Mac Isaac did with the laptop was give it to the FBI back in 2019. The same FBI that tried to discredit it as Russian disinformation in 2020.

      Pull the other one. It’s got bells on it.

    3. rae1954 is right. The FBI had the laptop for almost a year (since Dec 2019) before the laptop story became public. The FBI and Intelligence services had plenty of time to demonstrate that even one file–EVEN ONE–in the laptop was hacked or forged and they couldn’t do it, so they sent out a bunch of retired cronies to sign a claim that the laptop had “earmarks” of Russian disinformation.

      That signed claim was also a flat-out lie because if ACTING officials couldn’t claim it was hacked after almost a year of looking at it, no RETIRED official could legitimately claim it was hacked, and every one of those retired officials knew it.

      The real disinformation campaign was retired officials creating a knowingly false basis for censoring the story. Twitter should have seen through this propaganda ploy, but they didn’t. Not because they were incompetent (they were) but because they were corrupt.

    4. I think it is fair to say that you are clueless and disconnected from reality and Truth.

      There is no excuse for this at all. Glenn Greenwald left the intercept an outlet he founded to report on the laptop in Oct 2020 not long after the Post was supressed.

      As Greenwald made absolutely clear – in very great detail at the time – i.e. two weeks after the story broke.
      The laptop was indesputably authentic. Every single thing any reputable journalist would ever do to authenticate it had been done.
      It was unarguably NOT russian disinformation, and the supression of the story was unethical journalism.

      With respect to YOUR idiotic claims – I will paraphrase the NYT reporter who published a Trump tax return in 2016.
      The information is authentic, and it is newsworthy.
      Nothing else matters.

      The problem with the Steele Dossier is NOT that it is Clinton Campaign oppo research.
      The problem is that it is a hoax. A lie, made up.

      It is irrelevant whether the DNC emails came from Russian hackers.
      What matters is whether they are the DNC emails.

      It would not matter if Nick Fuentes had the Hunter Laptop for a month.

      What matters is that the content the news reports is authenticated.
      It was.

      Of course as is typical – liars lie.
      Your allegedly factual claims are almost entirely false.

    5. “. . . could have added . . .”

      When the Right speculates, it’s called a “conspiracy.” When the Left does so, it’s called being “skeptical.”

      Haven’t we seen that movie, before?

  7. Far from transparency, Musk – who announced he wanted Republicans to win the midterms and wants DeSantis to win the next election – is selectively releasing emails to feed a right wing, anti-Biden narrative.

    We do not have insight into any communications between the Trump campaign team and twitter executives to remove or keep up any posts. That is because Musk is trying to feed a one-sided narrative. Fox and the right wing media already do that, so now Musk-twitter is joining them in the right wing echo chamber. As is Truth Social and Parler.

    Yet we keep hearing how Conservatives are the victims here.

    1. Riiiiiight…… cause Fox is on Trump’s side….. And the tooth fairey brings you money….. Wake up dude. Matt Taibbi is an confirmed anti-Trumper. You don’t like the information so you cry foul. But you have no problem with 99.9 percent of the media lying for Biden and all the rest of the regime criminals.

    2. Following your logic, we don’t know what we don’t know, so we can’t know anything unless we know what we don’t know, and your certain we what we don’t know is Trump was equally culpable, and Taibbi is selectively releasing only one side. Yikes, you really do not want to know what you don’t care to know. Must be exhausting.

    3. “We do not have insight . . .”

      Perhaps (sock puppet #10k).

      Now, about the communications that prove Twitter suppressed an important story and acted as a shill for the DNC . . .

  8. If twitter blocking pictures of Hunter’s pen!s is wrong, I don’t want them to be right.

  9. Dem pundits are now saying, yes, laptop is real, censorship was real, but it was perfectly appropriate to ban pornographic pictures. The same dems that want picture books featuring sex implements and sexual acts in school libraries. You can’t make this stuff up. I am just DONE with these people, and they have such an iron grip it seems they are nearly impossible to dislodge. No one paid any attention to what the likes of the Clintons and Obamas were actually building, right in plain sight.

    Pray the new House will start to turn the tide, because these folks will not stop, and there is no going back to the dem party of yore. We will be dealing with some form of all this for generations.

  10. This is the way I am beginning to understand how so many obvious scandals and incidents of corruption, malfeasance, collusion and possible treason are so easily put aside after the appropriate amount of a”noise” ; 99% of the swamp is in a state of mutually assured destruction should any one of them take a step to actually expose what lies under the surface of the swamp. Unless the entire swamp could be drained (and most importantly not only the elected officials but the army of patently partisan bureaucrats grinding the taxpayer’s dollars through this fetid system) will we ever see justice and honor restored to the satisfaction of the public that is still paying attention.

  11. Dear Prof Turley,

    I see you’re up early to rise and hard at work. I like that .. . early bird gets the worm.

    >”Indeed, U.S. intelligence quickly rejected the Russian disinformation claim.” link

    Hardly. Over 50 top national security experts – including former DNI John Brennen and CIA Dir Michael Hayden, among other top national security officials + ‘team Biden’ – say it’s Russian disinformation. That’s why Twitter censored the story. .. on the basis of ‘where there is smoke there is fire’.

    “WASHINGTON Oct. 19, 2020 — The director of national intelligence insisted Monday that there is no evidence the Russians or other foreign actors were behind the emails allegedly found on a laptop linked to Hunter Biden, even as officials familiar with the matter tell NBC News the FBI continues to probe that question.” ~ Story

    That’s been the Elephant in the room since circa Oct 2019. Merry Christmas and Happy New Years!

    Furthermore, one would think the suggestion [by people familiar with the matter] that Hunter Biden * the son of the POTUS * laptop had been “hacked” by Vlad Putin’s Russia would be more concerning and raise more ‘national security’ problems than Hunter’s lewd pics and far-flung business dealings?

    *lets all hope ‘the FBI continues to probe that question’!

      1. We need to quit trying to send people to prison for things that are not crimes.
        The correct punishment is for no one to ever trust them again.
        And no one to ever trust those who trusted them again.

        Every single person involved in the suppression of the Hunter Biden story should
        never be trusted by anyone ever again.
        Never hold any position of trust anywhere ever again.
        No one who hires these people should be trusted.

    1. dgsnow-job writes, “Over 50 top national security experts – including former DNI John Brennen and CIA Dir Michael Hayden, among other top national security officials + ‘team Biden’ – say it’s Russian disinformation.”

      See my comment at 11:54 AM. You were debunked two years ago.

      1. Letting go of the narrative requires accepting not just that you have been lied to, but that you have lied.
        It also requires accepting that those you thought were good are not and those you thought were bad may not be.

        it is hard to accept that your moral judgment has been wrong.

    2. Your willingness to profer such documented liars as proof of russian disinformation is astounding in its idiocy and lack of logical thought. Do you get paid by the left to state such inanities or do you do this because of a misplaced zeal in a failed ideology?

    3. Honestly ! You can still pedal this bunk.
      Here is Glenn Greenwald in Oct, 2020 explaining why you are completely full of horse schiff.
      the material is authentic. it was verified sufficiently and easily verifiable at the time. The Biden’s refused to deny its authenticity.
      The material was OBVIOUSLY not russian disinformation – the “experts” were either liars or dupes at the time.

      Finally – as the Pulitzer Prize winning NY Times reporter who releases Trump’s tax return in 2016 said when asked
      It does not matter where it came from. It does not matter what the motives of those providing it are.
      All that matters is that it is authentic and newsworthy.

      THAT is the only standard for news.

    4. There is no defense of this.

      While the material was authentic and verified at the time.
      Even that is irrelevant to the malfeasance here.

      If this is “russian disinformation” – you PROVE that to discredit it, and THAT discredits everyone who published it.

      What you may NOT do, is memory hole the story AND silence anyone who choses CORRECTLY to report it.

      You are not entitled to suppress deliberate lies. You are only entitled to try to expose them.

      All you are doing is demonstrating how caution is dangerous when YOUR choices control OTHERS speech.

      You are doing an excellent job of PROVING, that some – even a majority MAY NOT without clear justification infringe on the rights of others.
      Fear, caution, ideology, even actual error, do NOT entitle you to infringe on the rights of others.

      Or as brandeis said – the remedy for bad speech is always more speech, not enforced silence.

      If you were decent you would slink away in shame,
      and vow to be more honest in the future,
      Not try to defend this immoral, elitist and offensive conduct.

  12. Is it not strange that the usual suspects keep going back to the Clintons, John Kerry, Obama, then Hilary again, and now Biden. The political offices holders faces may change but the seething mass of minions below them is like a pile of dead fish whose smell is so bad that must normal people would be turned away. These people would do anything and do it repeatedly and the smell does not even bother them because they have lived in it so long. It’’s so disgusting that it almost makes you want to not engage in any political interaction at all. But that would cede the field to these amoral creatures which you simply cannot do. A “Swamp” is a pristine place to live compared to what goes on in Washington D.C. And before anyone gets into ”what aboutisms” regarding Republicans, I know that also. But right now that area is the exclusive providence of the democrats and the real threat to democracy.

    1. @GEB

      I think so too. Far too much ground has been ceded already, and the fact is, most people could *already* give a toss. They simply don’t care, so long as their credit cards still work, they can smoke pot, abortions they will very likely never have are readily available everywhere, they never have to hear or see anything that is personally upsetting to them, and Instagram or Tik Tok are still available. It’s a real conundrum, but the time for ceding anything more is way, way over.

  13. “Baker likely seemed like a “made man” for a company committed to systemic censorship.” (JT)

    The ends (e.g., get Trump) justifies the means (lying, deceit, destruction). That is the (D.C.) mindset that allows such slime to ooze to the surface.

    Want clear waters? Promote principled individuals, if you can find them.

  14. This is a very serious set of violations by multiple actors many acting in concert.
    Many people should be in jeapordy..
    Will they be?

  15. At the end of the day, the coup was successful, and those responsible got away with it. It will be teased from history by the winners.

  16. So far the Twitter Files have not documented the role of the FBI in promoting this censorship through their weekly meetings. Chan of the FBI and Roth of Twitter have both stated under oath that the FBI warned of rumours of a Russian “hack and leak operation” before the NYP story came out, and Roth said that the warning explicitly involved Hunter Biden. It would not be surprising if Baker was also getting back-channel communications from his former colleagues. When the 51 former intelligence officers wrote their letter, the DNI said there was no evidence of Russian involvement and the FBI had to concur. Yet no one at Twitter appears to have checked with the FBI before censoring this story?

    This was a political operation designed by the top echelon of Twitter to interfere in the election, with the initial support and encouragement of the FBI.

    1. “So far the Twitter Files have not documented the role of the FBI in promoting this censorship through their weekly meetings.”

      That has been established via other sources, e.g., the state DA and Berenson cases.

      1. Sam, I agree. But there must be a lot about this in the Twitter internal communications yet that information has not yet been revealed. I find that puzzling.

        1. Gosh, give it a minute. There’s more to yet be released. In the order Taibbi has chosen. Perhaps, he has to get the ongoing attention of the average-skeptical-Joe/Jane, first. There’s a lot more to come.

        2. “I find that puzzling.”

          I don’t. They’re sneaky enough to not create a paper trail. As happened, apparently, when they put the screws to Facebook.

        3. “I find that puzzling.”

          Apparently, you were right to be puzzled.

          Baker was just fired for “curating” the release of those files.

  17. One of the reasons that non-fiction is so fascinating compared to fiction is because a fiction writer in their wildest dreams could not make this stuff up.

    It would be refreshing to see these dirty secrets aired out as some of them are starting to come to light but it smells worse a feedlot after a good rain or a malfunctioning sewer plant.

    “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?“

    1. Actually it is one of the reason I like to read John Grisham, and even though he is a Democrat, his stories bring out how a swamp works. Maybe its because he is both a lawyer and a Democrat that he understands how it works.

      1. Scott Turrow is also an excellent and very similar writer.
        Turrows, corruption is always in cook county, not the south.

Leave a Reply