Here’s a breakdown of Baker’s exhaustive testimony, which lasted more than seven hours across three days:
Not only did Baker back up a big Durham claim about what Sussmann said at the meeting, but he testified that he is “100% confident” that Sussmann uttered the allegedly false statement.
“Michael started to explain why he was there, and he said that he was not appearing before me on behalf of any particular client,” Baker said Thursday about their meeting, endorsing Durham’s central theory that Sussmann falsely denied that he came to Baker on behalf of any clients.
The “100% confident” line matters because the defense is questioning Baker’s credibility, due to his differing accounts over the years about the fateful meeting, which took place on September 19, 2016.
Baker said Sussmann led him to believe that he “was coming to see me as a good citizen who had obtained some information that he wanted to share with me.” He described Sussmann as “a friend of mine, and a colleague” and told the jury he “trusted that the statement was truthful.”
The FBI was “wary of being played” and was “very wary of being sucked into that kind effort,” Baker said, explaining why he would’ve liked to know if Sussmann came on Clinton’s behalf.
Did the alleged lie even matter?
If Sussmann told Baker during the meeting that he was representing Clinton, Baker said he “would have asked more questions,” and may have brought in the FBI agents who handled the Clinton email investigation, or the agents who were handling the early Trump-Russia probe.
The defense has argued that the alleged lie didn’t matter — and wasn’t “material” — because Sussmann was well-known within the FBI for representing the Democratic National Committee after it was hacked by Russia. Baker acknowledged in cross-examination that by the time he met Sussmann, he was aware of about Sussmann’s work for the DNC and Clinton campaign.
Defense hits Baker’s credibility
“They want you to believe Mr. Baker’s memory is clear, but you will see Mr. Baker’s memory is clear as mud,” Sussmann attorney Michael Bosworth said during opening statements.
Baker admitted Thursday that his trial testimony was “inconsistent” with that prior testimony.
Defense attorney Sean Berkowitz got Baker to acknowledge that it was the prosecutors who “triggered my memory” of what happened at the 2016 meeting. Baker said Durham’s team refreshed his recollection by showing him notes that an FBI official took of their conversations.
Baker slams ‘terrible’ partisan congressional probes
While Baker was Durham’s star witness, he made clear that he was only trying to testify truthfully and wasn’t going out of his way to throw his “friend and colleague” under the bus.
“I’m not out to get Michael,” Baker said Wednesday, shortly after Durham put him on the stand. “This is not my investigation, this is your investigation. You ask me a question, I answer it.”
“It was terrible. It sucked at multiple levels,” Baker said.
“It sucked because the allegation was somehow that the FBI had engaged in some kind of improper activity with respect to Mr. Trump,” he added. “My friends and colleagues had been pilloried in public, improperly in my view, and we were accused of being traitors and coup-plotters, and all of this was totally false and wrong.”