A Democrat-connected attorney from the law firm linked to the controversial Trump dossier gave materials about Russian election meddling to the FBI's general counsel during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to a report.
James Baker, who was the FBI's top lawyer until May, told Congress on Wednesday that Michael Sussmann, of Perkins Coie, passed on documents to him about Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election, the Daily Caller reported Thursday.
The exchange occurred in late summer or early fall, the former FBI official told a closed joint session of the House Judiciary and House Oversight Committees. The two met after Sussmann approached Baker, but before the FBI and the Justice Department applied for a FISA warrant to surveil ex-Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page. Baker was a key player in successfully obtaining multiple warrants for Page.
Baker told congressional investigators Wednesday he did not read all the information provided by Sussmann, but described the meeting as "atypical."
Daily Caller's report follows Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., calling Baker's appearance Wednesday “explosive."
“Some of the things that were shared were explosive in nature,” Meadows told Fox News amid House Republican-led investigations into bias at the FBI and DOJ. “The witness confirmed that things were done in an abnormal fashion. That’s extremely troubling.”
The FBI has been criticized for relying in part on the Trump dossier, compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, to get permission to gather information about Page, a U.S. citizen on American soil. The dossier, which includes unsubstantiated, controversial claims about Trump and prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room, was partly financed by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign via the Perkins Coie law firm and commissioned by opposition research firm Fusion GPS.
Sussmann, himself a former DOJ employee, represented the DNC and Clinton as they responded to Russian hacking attacks ahead of the 2016 election, according to his profile on Perkins Coie's website.
A Perkins Coie spokesperson told the Washington Examiner that Sussmann is regularly retained by clients to work on complex cybersecurity matters after serving as a DOJ cybercrime prosecutor for Democratic and Republican administrations.
"When Sussmann met with Mr. Baker on behalf of a client, it was not connected to the firm’s representation of the Hillary Clinton Campaign, the DNC or any Political Law Group client," the spokesperson said.