Former FBI General Counsel James Baker thought then-candidate Hillary Clinton should face criminal charges for her use of a private email server but was talked out of it “pretty late in the process.”
The news comes out just now as Baker’s testimony to House investigators in 2018 was provided to award winning investigative journalist John Solomon, who is also an executive vice president at The Hill. Solomon was given a preview of Baker’s testimony, which has yet to be publicly released. For years, Solomon wrote, the FBI claimed the Bureau was in agreement that Clinton shouldn’t face charges, but Baker’s testimony shows that wasn’t the case — at least not until just before ex-FBI Director James Comey made his July 5, 2016 announcement not to charge Clinton on the basis that she didn’t intend to violate the law (even though intention was not part of the law).
Solomon wrote that Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) asked Baker about his initial belief that Clinton should be charged.
“I have reason to believe that you originally believed it was appropriate to charge Hillary Clinton with regard to violations of law — various laws, with regard to mishandling of classified information. Is that accurate?” Ratcliffe asked.
Baker responded, “yes.”
Later in his testimony, according to Solomon, Baker explained how he ended up coming to agree that Clinton should not face charges.
“So, I had that belief initially after reviewing, you know, a large binder of her emails that had classified information in them,” Baker said. “And I discussed it internally with a number of different folks, and eventually became persuaded that charging her was not appropriate because we could not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that — we, the government, could not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that — she had the intent necessary to violate (the law).”
Baker responded to a question about when during the process he changed his mind by saying, “Pretty late in the process, because we were arguing about it, I think, up until the end.”
Baker went on in his testimony to explain that he thought Clinton was wrong for using an unsecured, private email server.
“My original belief after — well, after having conducted the investigation and towards the end of it, then sitting down and reading a binder of her materials — I thought that it was alarming, appalling, whatever words I said, and argued with others about why they thought she shouldn’t be charged,” Baker said, according to Solomon.
It still seems incredible that setting up a private email server in the basement bathroom of her Chappaqua, NY residence to use instead of a “state.gov” email account wasn’t proof enough of intent to violate the law — a law that didn’t require intent as part of the equation. Solomon concludes by saying Baker’s testimony shows “we still don't know the full story on how the Clinton email investigation ended and if anyone else disagreed with the outcome — even after congressional hearings and an inspector general’s review.” He suggests incoming Attorney General William Barr or Sen. Lindsey Gram (R-SC) of the Senate Judiciary Committee may have “the stomach to resolve the lingering questions.”