Jim Baker on What We Learned From Mueller’s Testimony

The former special prosecutor Robert Mueller finally testified after months of anticipation. Former general counsel to the FBI, Jim Baker joins the program to discuss what we learned from the hearings.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: So you were general counsel at a very, very key time when all of this was unfolding and underway — certainly in your latter years there. So just let’s start out by getting your review on whether anything massively different or important came in to sharp focus today.

JIM BAKER: Well, if you’ve read the report — for those of us who have actually read the report, I don’t think there was much factually new that came out today. So that’s one thing. I think that it was important for more of the American people and members of Congress who haven’t read the report to hear more about it. They actually at the end of the day, did not hear much of it from the mouth of Director Mueller, former special counsel Mueller. They heard it mainly recited by members of Congress and then Director Mueller gave sort of short terse responses — yes, no, that’s in the report, I agree with that and so on. So there’s not much that was learned that was new there. But I think it was important for folks to hear from him, for example, you know, as one of the people who was responsible for helping start the investigation, for director Mueller to say to everyone, no, this was not a witch hunt, no, this was not a hoax was critically important. He also said as you played, that this was not an exoneration which contradicts what President Trump has been saying. So there were things that were important about it. And having, you know, the amount of attention that it gathered from all of the news media is good because the more that the American people know about this, the more they can help the political process and help the country defend itself against what we expect in 2020 from the Russians and others.

AMANPOUR: Well, what you expect — I mean former FBI director, special counsel Mueller clearly said that they’re at it right now and they will be doing it and they’re planning to do in 2020. Are there any mechanisms in place to protect against that?

BAKER: Well, the American people are obviously much more attuned to what the Russians might be up to now than we were back in 2016. The government is trying to — elements of the government like the Department of Homeland Security are trying to defend the country. But we have an extremely complicated election structure here with something like, you know, 8,800 organizations in the United States that are responsible for, you know, counting — for collecting votes and counting them and so on. So that’s pretty alarming. Whether we have the defenses to protect our system against the Russians, I’m not confident in that. And one thing that I worry about is that the President himself does not seem convinced that something bad happened and is likely to happen, so he’s not pushing the executive branch to do everything that he possibly can. And he’s not coming to Congress for legislation. So that’s a significant problem. So they’re coming again. They will adapt. They’ll come at us differently, and we need to be ready for it.

About This Episode EXPAND

Christiane Amanpour speaks with Jim Baker, Mark Mazzetti and Susan Glasser about Robert Mueller’s testimony. Hari Sreenivasan speaks with Richard Clarke about how we can defend ourselves online in an era of increased cyber threats.