A top FBI official with inside knowledge of Donald Trump's attempts to pressure James Comey to clear him in the Russia investigation has quietly been reassigned within the agency by Trump's handpicked FBI chief.
A senior FBI official who can reportedly verify that Donald Trump pressured former FBI Director James Comey to clear him in the ongoing investigation into Russian election interference was quietly reassigned by Trump’s FBI director, according to an explosive new report by the Washington Post.
In a sudden and unexpected move, James Baker — the FBI’s top lawyer — was just reassigned by FBI Director Christopher A. Wray. Baker told colleagues he will be “taking on other duties at the FBI,” the Post reported Thursday night.
Wray was installed as Trump’s chosen FBI director after Comey was fired.
Baker has served as the head of the FBI’s Office of General Counsel for years, but now the transfer is occurring as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has secured several convictions and indictments of senior Trump campaign officials.
The Post notes that Baker is “very close” to Comey.
Previous reporting indicates that Baker is one of very few senior officials with whom Comey consulted after Trump leaned on him to clear his name in the Russia probe.
Vox reported that Baker, along with Comey chief of staff Jim Rybicki and then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, were told about the encounter between Trump and Comey.
Comey has testified to Congress that Trump demanded that he show him loyalty, drop the investigation into Michael Flynn, and publicly clear Trump of involvement in the Russia scandal.
Comey refused to bend to Trump’s pressure and was fired after.
Vox reporter Murry Waas said his source, a senior law enforcement official familiar with the Trump-Comey-Baker saga, told him that Baker “had more than one discussion” about Trump’s reported attempts to coerce Comey before firing him. His source also said Baker “almost certainly made extensive notes about those deliberations.”
Baker has been a target of Trump’s right-wing media allies. Circa, the news service operated by the pro-Trump Sinclair network of television stations, claimed that Baker was a “suspect” in an investigation of Department of Justice leaks.
Breitbart, run by former Trump campaign chairman and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, amplified Circa’s report, highlighting claims that the investigation was “criminal” in nature.
Trump has been known to take political cues from his media allies. He has repeatedly pushed issues – no matter how crackpot – after they were featured on Fox News, and is fond of repeating disproven conspiracies circulating on the right.
The latest news adds another piece of critical evidence suggesting that Trump was attempting to obstruct justice while the FBI and other entities within the government were trying to get to the bottom of Russia’s actions with the Trump campaign.
And with each new move, Trump is giving investigators even more to work with.