Former FBI General Counsel James Baker conceded that the Department of Justice inspector general will find that the bureau made “mistakes” during its counterinvestigation into now-debunked collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
“The inspector general is looking at everything we did,” Baker told CNN, per the Washington Examiner. “If the IG usually finds mistakes that we made, so I expect him to find mistakes this time.”
The former FBI official’s remarks come as Inspector General Michael Horowitz is expected to complete his review of alleged surveillance abuses committed by the Justice Department and FBI related to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court applications regarding former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page. Attorney General William Barr has stated the probe could wrap up by May or June. Meanwhile, Barr has assigned U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut John Durham to look into the origins of the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign, the New York Times reported Monday.
Baker’s remarks come after expressing uneasiness last week about Horowtiz’s forthcoming report on the bureau’s conduct. “I’m always nervous about the IG, I guess,” the former FBI official replied during a fireside chat with Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes in Washington, D.C, the Examiner reported.
“They’re coming in after the fact to look at what we did,” Baker continued, adding that during the probe the bureau was “trying to do it in real time and having the pressure to deal with these threats as they were coming.”
He later said he felt “confident in the judgments that I made at the time based on the information that I had available to me,” before conceding, “I’m sure they will find things that I didn’t know at the time and maybe that others didn’t know at the time.”
Baker was reassigned from his role as the FBI’s top lawyer by bureau Christopher Wray in December 2017 — a position he had held since 2014. On May 4, 2018, he resigned from the FBI and later joined the Brookings Institution as a fellow. He is also a lecturer at Harvard Law School.
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 previous year. Yahoo Inc. was said to 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.” House Oversight Committee members Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-NC) said in January 2018 that the probe was still ongoing.