James Baker, the former top FBI lawyer who left to become Twitter’s deputy general counsel, was shot down by the company’s then-watchdog Yoel Roth when Baker suggested an exhortation from then-President Donald Trump urging Americans not to let COVID-19 “dominate” their lives should be censored.
As Trump, now 76, prepared to leave Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. on Oct. 5, 2020 after undergoing three days of treatment for the virus, he tweeted to his 86 million followers: “I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good!
“Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!” the 45th president added.
That afternoon, Baker dashed off an email to Roth and another senior Twitter legal executive, Stacia Cardille, asking them: “Why isn’t this POTUS tweet a violation of our COVID-19 policy (especially the ‘Don’t be afraid of COVID’ statement)?”
Roth explained that the tweet was “a broad, optimistic statement” that “doesn’t incite people to do something harmful, nor does it recommend against taking precautions or following mask directives (or other guidelines). It doesn’t fall within the published scope of our policies. Curious whether you have a different read on it, though.”
Baker’s response, if he had one, was not mentioned in Monday’s report on Twitter’s internal processes by independent reporter David Zweig.
While Baker lost that internal debate, a previous data dump suggested Baker had colluded with his former FBI colleagues to mislead Twitter executives into believing the contents of The Post’s October 2020 Hunter Biden laptop exposé were the result of Russian election interference.
In reality, the contents of the laptop were given to the FBI by a Delaware computer repair shop owner, who gave them to former White House lawyer Rudy Giuliani after not hearing back from the feds. The former mayor then supplied The Post with the eyebrow-raising content, which showed how the soon-to-be first son made money lobbying in Ukraine and China.
Baker was in close contact with FBI officials before and after the Oct. 14, 2020 article was released, and falsely told his Twitter colleagues — who had recently been primed by the feds for a potential Russian hacking situation — that the contents of the laptop were likely inauthentic and foreign election interference, according to a report last week by independent journalist Michael Shellenberger.
The report noted that Baker was “one of the most powerful men in the U.S. intel community,” and had enjoyed stints at CNN, asset management firm Bridgewater and the liberal Brookings Institute think tank, in addition to working at the FBI and DOJ.
Baker had twice been investigated while employed by the FBI for leaking information to reporters, according to Shellenberger, and was discovered to be secretly vetting the internal Twitter documents before they could be reviewed by journalists, as ordered by new CEO Elon Musk.
“He has been something of a Zelig of FBI controversies dating back to 2016, from the Steele Dossier to the Alfa-Server mess. He resigned in 2018 after an investigation into leaks to the press,” wrote Twitter Files journalist Matt Taibbi on Dec. 6.
“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,” Taibbi continued.
House Republicans indicated earlier this month that they would investigate Baker’s role in the suppression of the Post article.