James Baker, former General Counsel for the FBI, is still under federal investigation for unauthorized media disclosures, according to a congressional letter sent to a U.S. attorney’s office.
House Oversight Committee members Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-NC) sent a letter to the U.S. attorney in Connecticut on Tuesday requesting information regarding the probe, citing a transcript of Baker and his attorney’s congressional testimony last fall, where details of the investigation were made known.
“You may or may not know, [Baker has] been the subject of a leak investigation… a criminal leak investigation that’s still active at the Justice Department,” Daniel Levin, Baker’s lawyer, told House investigators when pressed on his client’s relationship with members of the media.
“As we continue our oversight and investigative work, we felt it prudent to write to you seeking an update. Without being apprised of the contours of your leak investigation and Baker’s role, we run the risk of inadvertently interfering with your prosecutorial plans,” Jordan and Meadows wrote in there request to veteran U.S. Attorney John Durham.
The Republican congressmen also raised concerns about other high-ranking law enforcement officials’ unorthodox conduct, which included involving themselves in matters outside their direct purview.
“The Committees learned that in some instances, high-ranking DOJ and FBI officials, including the FBI General Counsel James Baker and DOJ Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, took the self-described ‘unusual’ step of inserting themselves into the evidentiary chain of custody,” they wrote.
Details surrounding the investigation are unclear, and the letter does not specify whether this investigation is the same as a reported leak probe from 2017 or a separate inquiry.
In July 2017, Circa reported Baker was under investigation for allegedly leaking information about classified material concerning a top-secret surveillance program, which was reported by Reuters the year prior. Yahoo Inc. was reportedly ordered by the federal government to scan “hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said three former employees and a fourth person apprised of the events.” However, the Washington Post reported in December 2017 that the investigation into the leak had lost steam and was expected to wrap up with charges filed. The same report revealed then-newly minted FBI Director Christopher Wray was resigning Baker from his duties as head of the FBI’s Office of General Counsel, though sources told the Post the move was unrelated to the leak probe.
Baker is now the second former top FBI official known to be under investigation for unauthorized media leaks. Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is under investigation by the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C. for unlawful disclosures to news organizations — an offense, among other, he was fired for in March by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Federal prosecutors have impaneled a grand jury as part of their probe into whether McCabe intentionally misled investigators about the leaks.