Former Top FBI lawyer James Baker has received much less media attention than his subordinate, Lisa Page, but his closed-door testimony before congressional investigators on Wednesday provided some new and, according to several Republican Congressmen, “explosive” and previously unknown, information.
Reps. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) spoke to reporters following Baker’s testimony and appeared unusually pleased, more so than I’ve ever seen them, by what they had learned. (The video below will demonstrate what I’m referring to by this comment.) Due to a confidentiality agreement with Baker and his attorneys, they could not provide many specifics. “However, they indicated in broad terms that Baker was cooperative and forthcoming about the genesis of the Russia case in 2016, and about the surveillance warrant application for Trump campaign aide Carter Page in October 2016.”
Jim Jordan told reporters that “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.”
He could not reveal the name of this source, but he did indicate that this was completely new information and that it was “explosive.”
Both men used the term “explosive” in describing Baker’s remarks. Mark Meadows said “some of the things that were shared were explosive in nature. This witness confirmed that things were done in an abnormal fashion. That’s extremely troubling.”
Fox News’ Catherine Herridge has followed this case closely and says that Baker’s deposition on Wednesday:
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lays the groundwork for next week’s planned closed-door interview with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Baker, as the FBI’s top lawyer, helped secure the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant on Page, as well as three subsequent renewals. Prior to the deposition, Republican investigators said they believed Baker could explain why information about the British ex-spy behind a salacious Trump-related dossier, Christopher Steele, and Steele’s apparent bias against then-candidate Trump, were withheld from the FISA court, and whether other exculpatory information was known to Rosenstein when he signed the final FISA renewal for Page in June 2017.
Rosenstein is scheduled to testify behind closed doors on Capital Hill next Thursday. Trump has not yet acted on the recent New York Times article which reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had hoped to use the 25th amendment to remove President Trump from office and suggested secretly recording Trump. Some of those present say he was joking. Others say he was serious.
The White House would like to complete the Kavanaugh senate confirmation process before focusing on Rosenstein. The New York Times had hoped to spur Trump into impulsively firing Rosenstein before the midterms, the optics of which would play out badly for Trump and for Republicans in general. Fortunately, Trump did not act on this information. Instead, he and Rosenstein will meet quietly and any decisions will be put on hold until after the elections.
Each new deposition advances the case to some degree. Judging from the demeanors of Jordan and Meadows, and we do have to read the tea leaves here, Baker’s testimony seemed to be especially illuminating for them. In particular, the discovery of a previously unknown person providing information to the FBI, is potentially game changing.
Rosenstein likely has more knowledge of events than nearly anyone else. It is hoped that he will be more forthcoming next week than he was during his open hearing in August when his answers were evasive and his demeanor, defiant. Because he has been compromised by the New York Times article, perhaps he will answer questions more truthfully. By publishing their story, the Times actually handed Trump, his lawyers and congressional investigators a gift which they can exploit to gain cooperation from a previously arrogant and obstructive Rod Rosenstein. Thanks New York Times.
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