Last Updated on May 7, 2020
A senior Pentagon official was in regular contact with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius during the height of the RussiaGate hysteria, according to a report stemming from a Judicial Watch FOIA request.
James H. Baker of the Office of Net Assessment is the Defense Department official in question.
The article released in the Washington Post written by Ignatius is responsible for leaking two top-secret phone calls between General Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. The media hysteria regarding General Flynn was used as justification for Peter Strzoks and the FBI to pursue interviews with Flynn at the White House.
This was seen as the high water mark of the Russia Gate Debacle, which culminated in Mueller’s Report and its findings of “no collusion.”
In the series of communications between Baker and the legacy media employee, Baker remarked on the pair’s “long history,” giving rise to speculations he shared a source-reporter relationship with Ignatius who submits bi-weekly pieces on foreign affairs for the Washington Times. The only comment issued on behalf of Baker is that he is actively involved in litigation and could not make a statement at this time.
In October, Sidney Powell, the lawyer representing General Flynn, indicated to the District Court that Baker was thought to be behind the leaked information that had found its way to the Washington Posts foreign affairs writing desk. Powell further insists that the FBI entrapped and “framed” her client, threatening prosecution of his son should he not plead guilty.
Although independent corroboration is still lacking proof that Baker deliberately leaked information regarding Flynn’s phone calls, the ONA has been called into question of late. Over a million dollars flowed through ONA and the hands of one Stefan Halper, who was later revealed to have been secretly recording conversations with Carter Page and George Papadopolous, in a failed attempt to gather incriminating evidence from the now-debunked RussiaGate Conspiracy.
Further, in another link to the RussiaGate conspiracy, Adam Lovinger left ONA to work at the National Security Council at the bequest of General Flynn, where he was quick to criticize the techniques he had seen employed at ONA under Halper and Baker. Soon after, it was brought to Lovinger’s attention the Baker had opened an investigation into him personally, alleging he had been somehow negligent in his duties.
According to the Washington Post, Lovell was suspended without pay, removed form the White House, and lost his appeal. His attorney later discovered, due in part to the aid of judicial watch, that a Navy Intelligence Report cleared Lovinger of any wrongdoing.
His reprisal complaint, in response to what he sees as punishment for whistleblowing, is still pending verdict.
Judicial Watch has also received several emails between James Baker and now-replaced Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work, however the Pentagon censored all content of these discussions under exemption 5, citing that these communications are relevant to an ongoing investigation.
The implication, then, is that then Work and Baker were talking to each other about the Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, as the only documents required from the FOIA request were those relevant to Baker and Ignatius.
From 2015 to 2019, Baker and Ignatius developed a first name basis of communication, exclaiming “no joy” when missing each others calls or communiques.
In 2016, Mr.Baker spoke to Zachary Mears, deputy Chief of Staff for Ashton Carter and Chief of Staff for Work. “I have a long history with David and talk with him regularly,” he said.
In response to a column Ignatius wrote in 2016, “How America’s Political Decay Has Fueled Trump’s Rise” Baker wrote, “A nice piece and useful diagnosis. Now — onto trying to solve whatever part of it I can!” A few months later, Ignatius contacts Baker via email expressing an interest in going over a “bunch of things.”
In August the previous year, Baker compliments Ignatius, “David — another good column on Syria this morning, although you will be unsurprised I do not share your sense of ever flickers of optimism … A good article by our colleague Karen De Young on the NSC also. Hope all remains well with you. With respect, Jim.” A month later, an email in response asks if the two can “chat” the following day. When asked for specifics, the topics of Russia, the Euro, and Saudi Arabia were mentioned.
A short time later, Baker sends, “Sir, a nice column laying the drivers of our present strategy wrt ISIS … it’s advantages and its risks. Have a blessed holiday.”
After a thank you, Mr.Ignatius responds: “You around this week for a phone chat?….Had a fascinating breakfast this am with Work and [Gen. Paul J.] Selva. If you have a few mins this afternoon I’d be grateful for a call.”
The conversations released indicate an interest in crafting a specific narrative about Syria, which is mentioned several times.
In an October 2016 communication from Ignatius to Baker, he said, “I’m trying to figure out what to recommend for Syria — stand down, stand in, stand still. I’m reachable Monday.” and “I am good for dinner on Wednesday 6 Dec. Would you be my guest at the Metropolitan Club at 17th and H ? I promise a tasty dinner and a quiet place to talk.”
In October of 2018, Baker sent this: “David, please, as always, our discussions are completely off the record. If any of my observations strike you as worthy of mixing or folding into your own thinking, that is as usual fine. Great to talk with you. Have a good night.”
Though in July of that same year, Ignatius wrote to Baker, “I will be trying to make sense of the days events intellectually, and I could use some wisdom. Any chance we could talk at noon or so?”
It is unclear why Pentagon officials and journalists at the Washington Post, now owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, would have such a longstanding and comfortable personal relationship.