On Thursday, Circa News reported that FBI General Counsel James A. Baker is “purportedly” under a Justice Department criminal investigation for allegedly leaking classified national security information to the media.
FBI spokeswoman Carol Cratty neither confirmed nor denied the report, based on statements made by “multiple government officials close to the probe” who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Sara A. Carter said.
This comes as Department of Justice Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he would soon be making an announcement regarding the progress of leak investigations. A DOJ official declined to comment on Circa’s inquiry into Baker but did say, the planned announcement by Sessions is part of the overall “stepped up efforts on leak investigations.”
Three sources, with knowledge of the investigation, told Circa that Baker is the top suspect in an ongoing leak investigation, but Circa has not been able to confirm the details of what national security information or material was allegedly leaked.
A federal law enforcement official with knowledge of ongoing internal investigations in the bureau told Circa, “the bureau is scouring for leakers and there’s been a lot of investigations.”
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This comes as the Trump administration is ramping up efforts to contain leaks in the White House and national security agencies, Carter said.
It’s not clear what information Baker is alleged to have leaked to the media, Breitbart reported, adding:
Baker is reportedly a “close ally” of ousted FBI Director James Comey, who, in 2014, appointed him to his current post as the top attorney representing the bureau. According to a June report in Vox, Baker was one of the three officials to whom Comey turned for advice soon after his infamous private audience with President Donald Trump in which he later claimed, through a memo leaked to Columbia Law professor Daniel Richman, that the President asked him “let it go” with regard to former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
If Circa’s report proves accurate, it may be the first name to drop in Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s rumored extensive probe into leakers in the federal government. Neither the Justice Department nor the FBI responded to Circa’s request for comment on Baker being under investigation, but DOJ Spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores did release this statement to journalists Thursday:
We have seen an astonishing increase in the number of leaks of classified national security information in recent months. We agree with [White House Communications Director] Anthony [Scaramucci] that these staggering number of leaks are undermining the ability of our government to function and to protect this country. Like the Attorney General has said, “whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail,” and we will aggressively pursue leak cases wherever they may lead.
Baker, Carter notes, “was appointed to the FBI’s general counsel by Comey in 2014 and has had a long and distinguished history within the intelligence community.”
According to his FBI bio, Baker joined the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review In 1996 after working as a federal prosecutor in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice during the 1990s, Carter said.
In addition to receiving the George H.W. Bush Award for Excellence in counter-terrorism in 2006, he received the “NSA’s Intelligence Under Law Award; the NSA Director’s Distinguished Service Medal; and DOJ’s highest award— the Edmund J. Randolph Award.”
Breitbart further said:
Mr. Baker is not related to Reagan era Secretary of State James A. Baker III or his son, attorney James A. Baker IV. Other than a brief stint in private practice, Baker has spent the lion’s share of his legal career at the Department of Justice, having been hired through the prestigious DOJ Honors program in 1990. He has extensive links to the intelligence community, having worked for 11 years at the now-defunct DOJ Office of Intelligence Policy and Review. He also served as an associate deputy attorney general from 2009-2011 under President Barack Obama, dealing with national security and intelligence matters.
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