“[James] Baker told investigators that he felt it would be very difficult for the FBI or the DOJ to intentionally try to trick the FISC into issuing a FISA without sufficient evidence.
“Such a thing wouldn’t make its way through the system because somebody would ferret that out it in the process. And I seriously doubt that it would make its way to the FISA court. Because the FBI doesn’t want to — would not want to do that with respect to the director who is going to sign these things, nor to the Attorney General. And the Department of Justice would be very protective of the Attorney General and try to ferret out anything like that. And I think it would be kept away from the FISA court in the first instance,” Baker said.
The Page application was largely reliant on the Steele dossier, a series of memos that was unverified at its time of submission to the FISC and remains unverified to this day. Circular reporting, provided by Steele himself, was used as corroboration of the dossier. Additionally, Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, whose conversation with Australian diplomat Alexander Downer was used to open the FBI’s July 31, 2016, counterintelligence investigation, is referenced in the FISA, yet there “is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos,” according to a House Intelligence Committee memo.
Baker himself was unaware of some material facts. When he was told that high-ranking DOJ official Bruce Ohr—who had passed information from Steele and Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson to the FBI—had informed the FBI that there was the potential for bias, Baker seemed surprised, telling investigators, “I don’t recall ever hearing that before just right now.”
Notably, Baker testified that he was aware of Ohr’s interactions with Steele and the FBI, but told investigators “they weren’t something I focused on.” When pressed, he stated:
“I was aware that Bruce Ohr had some type of relationship with the source, and that somehow through that mechanism, the details of which I did not know, information was flowing to the FBI. From the source through Bruce to the FBI.”
Meanwhile, Moyer testified that without the Steele dossier, the Page FISA would have had a “50/50” chance of achieving the probable cause standard before the FISA court. Notably, to this day, the Steele dossier is considered to have been largely discredited.
Baker appeared to understand the sensitivity of the Page FISA, telling investigators at one point that he envisioned an interview like the one he was currently involved in:
“I anticipated being sitting here in rooms like this down the road, I seriously did, and I knew that it was — I knew that it was sensitive. I knew that it would be controversial … It was connected to a candidate — this person had connections to a candidate for the office of President of the United States. That alone was enough to make me worried about it and made me focus on it.”
Despite this admission, when asked if he had reviewed any of the three Page FISA renewals, Baker responded that he had not done so, telling investigators, “The machinery was moving and the renewals they had expiration dates and so on.” (Read more: Epoch Times, 2/11/2019)