Byron York posted an article at The Washington Examiner today about James Baker’s two interviews with House of Representatives investigators last October. The article notes that Republican Rep. Mark Meadows called parts of Baker’s testimony “explosive.”
The article reports:
Republicans intended to make the interview transcripts public. The questioning was not conducted in a classified setting, and Baker had FBI and other lawyers with him the whole time. But the House still had to send the transcripts to the FBI for clearance, just to make sure public release would not reveal any classified or otherwise secret information.
If Republicans hoped for a quick OK from the bureau, they were sorely disappointed. October passed. Then November. Then December. And now, half of January. The FBI still has the transcripts, and there is no word on when the bureau will clear them for release.
Even though the transcripts have not been released, they are in the news.
The article explains:
Two major news stories in the past few days have been based in whole or in part on what Baker told lawmakers. Some news organizations appear to have read the transcripts, or at least significant portions of them, or had them read to reporters by someone with access. Suddenly, the Baker transcripts are hot.
Again, the FBI still has the transcripts and is not yet saying when they will be cleared for release.
It seems as if both The New York Times and CNN have reported on information in the transcripts (along with comments by Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows):
The Baker excerpt, revealing the criminal investigation, is a new and important part of the story of the FBI’s handling of the Trump-Russia investigation. Release of the full transcripts could shed new light on the FBI’s use of the Trump dossier in the Russia probe. But they remain secret — and it is the FBI that has the final word on whether and when to allow the release of information that is unflattering to the FBI.
The second big story that came in part from the Baker transcript was the New York Times piece last Friday headlined, “FBI Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia.”
The story caused intense excitement in anti-Trump circles. “Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security,” the Times reported. “Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.”
In the piece, the bureau’s reasoning was explained by references to … the secret Baker transcripts. The paper said Baker told lawmakers that the FBI viewed President Trump’s firing of Director James Comey as a national security issue. “Not only would it be an issue of obstructing an investigation, but the obstruction itself would hurt our ability to figure out what the Russians had done, and that is what would be the threat to national security,” Baker said in the still-secret testimony, according to the Times. The paper said portions of the testimony “were read to The New York Times.”
Not long after, CNN published an article, “Transcripts detail how FBI debated whether Trump was ‘following directions’ of Russia.” CNN quoted significant portions of the Baker transcripts, in which Baker said the FBI wanted to know if Trump “was acting at the behest of and somehow following directions, somehow executing [Russia’s] will.”
It’s time for the FBI to stop playing games and release the transcripts. If there are rogue elements of the FBI that will be revealed in these transcripts, so be it. It is time that we cleaned up our justice system and brought back transparency and equal justice under the law.