Who is Jim Baker, former top FBI lawyer, fired by Elon Musk over ‘Twitter Files’?

Elon Musk said that Jim Baker, Twitter Inc’s deputy general counsel, was sacked from the tech giant over his potential role in the ‘suppression of information important to the public dialogue’. Who is the lawyer?

FP Explainers December 07, 2022 16:53:50 IST

Jim Baker was fired by Elon Musk for his alleged role in suppression of information. Twitter/@thejimbaker

Elon Musk has fired Twitter’s deputy general counsel, James Baker, over his role in allegedly censoring information.

Musk took to the social media platform to announce the news. “In light of concerns about Baker’s possible role in suppression of information important to the public dialogue, he was exited from Twitter today,” the Tesla CEO tweeted on Tuesday (6 December).

The Twitter owner’s comments seem to be linked to Baker’s role in the so-called Twitter Files, says Bloomberg.

Musk also claimed that Jim Baker’s response about Twitter blocking access to a New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop was “unconvincing”. Hunter is US president Joe Biden’s son.

Who is Jim Baker who was “exited from” Twitter? What are ‘Twitter files’? We explain.

Who is Jim Baker?

Jim Baker is a former top Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) lawyer who had been with Twitter since 2020.

He worked at the United States Department of Justice from November 1990 to October 2007, The Sun reported.

Baker, who is also a former CNN analyst, was a key figure in the FBI’s probe into the alleged collaboration between Russia and Republican nominee Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election.

As per New York Post report, Baker, who served as general counsel for the FBI from 2014 to 2018, also worked with Trump critics – Peter Strzok and Lisa Page – at the federal law enforcement agency.

After his exit from the bureau in 2018, the lawyer found himself in the middle of a controversy for allegedly leaking materials to the media, the report added.

Baker was also a key witness in special counsel John Durham’s case against cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussmann.

Sussmann was accused of lying to Baker about him working for the Hillary Clinton campaign when he informed the then-FBI official about “secret communications” between the Trump Organization and Russia-based Alpha Bank.

After the tip in September 2016, the FBI probed the claim and found the data was not suspicious, reported The Washington Post.

Meanwhile, Baker was hired by Twitter to head its legal team in June 2020.

Over two years later, he has been sacked by Twitter’s new owner.

Baker has been reportedly accused of “secretly vetting” the internal Twitter documents before they were submitted to journalists for review.

What are ‘Twitter Files’?

Musk provided documents related to internal Twitter communications — that he dubbed ‘Twitter Files’ — to independent journalist Matt Taibbi and former Wall Street Journal and New York Times writer Bari Weiss

Musk said he gave access to the journalists as he wanted to build people’s trust in the tech giant.

Elon Musk has shared internal documents related to Twitter with journalists. AFP File Photo

According to The Wall Street Journal, Musk has claimed that these ‘Twitter Files’ display “biased decisions” taken by former management in the organisation that benefited Democrats.

Speaking about the Twitter documents, Taibbi wrote on Tuesday, “On Friday, the first installment of the Twitter files was published here. We expected to publish more over the weekend. Many wondered why there was a delay”.

“We can now tell you part of the reason why. On Tuesday, Twitter deputy general counsel (and former FBI general counsel) Jim Baker was fired. Among the reasons? Vetting the first batch of ‘Twitter Files’ – without knowledge of new management,” he added.

Citing Taibbi, New York Post said that Weiss found out about Baker’s involvement in the Hunter Biden story.

“The news that Baker was reviewing the ‘Twitter files’ surprised everyone involved, to say the least. New Twitter chief Elon Musk acted quickly to ‘exit’ Baker Tuesday,” Taibbi said in a tweet.

As per CNN, Taibbi, who writes for Substack, has claimed there was no evidence in the Twitter communications of government involvement in the Hunter Biden story.

New York Post reported Taibbi said that there was communication between Baker and former Twitter vice president of global communications, Brandon Borrman, about restricting the Hunter Biden article.

Twitter had blocked the story citing a potential violation of its “hacked materials” policy. Two weeks after a faceoff, Twitter had unblocked the New York Post‘s account.

The tech platform had faced flak from the conservatives over its move to limit the reach of the article.

Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had admitted while testifying before Congress last year that the tech giant’s response to New York Post’s report on Hunter Biden was a “total mistake”, reported The Wall Street Journal.

“We made a quick interpretation, using no other evidence, that the materials in the article were obtained through hacking, and according to our policy, we blocked them from being spread,” he had said, as per The Washington Post.

“Upon further consideration, we admitted this action was wrong and corrected it within 24 hours,” Dorsey had told the Congress.

Besides Twitter, Facebook had also initially limited the reach of the Hunter story.

What was New York Post’s story on Hunter Biden?

In October 2020, New York Post claimed in its report that Hunter introduced then-Vice President Joe Biden to a top Ukrainian executive.

As per New York Post, the emails about the “meeting” were recovered from a laptop that allegedly belonged to Hunter Biden.

Hunter’s lawyer had denied the claims that the meeting took place, reported The Washington Post.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: December 07, 2022 17:00:34 IST

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