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Elon Musk fires top Twitter lawyer for secretly meddling in ‘Twitter Files’ release

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
December 08, 2022

New Twitter owner Elon Musk fired one of the company’s top lawyers on Tuesday over concerns they had secretly vetted internal documents recently released as the so-called “Twitter Files.”

The billionaire entrepreneur announced Tuesday that he had “exited” deputy general counsel James Baker, who had a “possible role in suppression of information important to the public dialogue.” He told a commenter that Baker’s “explanation” for his alleged actions were “unconvincing.”

Over the weekend, Musk released employee emails through independent journalist Matt Taibbi showing discussions that led to controversial censorship of reporting on the Hunter Biden laptop story. About 20 minutes after Musk announced Baker’s firing, Taibbi again took to Twitter to suggest Baker had improperly inserted himself into the process.

He said “part of the reason why” more information hadn’t been released over the weekend was that Baker had been “vetting the first batch of ‘Twitter Files’ – without knowledge of new management.”

“The news that Baker was reviewing the ‘Twitter files’ surprised everyone involved, to say the least,” Taibbi said. The list of surprised people apparently included Musk.

“New Twitter chief Elon Musk acted quickly to ‘exit’ Baker Tuesday,” Taibbi continued.

According to Taibbi, another journalist receiving material from Twitter, Bari Weiss, was told that a man named Jim was “in charge of releasing the files.”

When Weiss called to ask about Jim’s last name, he was identified as Jim Baker and Weiss said “My jaw hit the floor.”

Prior to Baker being hired by Twitter in 2020, he was the top lawyer for the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 2014 to 2017. He played a major part in the bureau’s controversial investigations of former President Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia, as reported by Fox News.

Taibbi also posted a photo purporting to show Baker’s last name on the “first batch of emails” he received, but the context of the photo isn’t clear.

Baker had apparently played a role in Twitter’s original censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop story.

One email penned by Baker appeared in the initial “Twitter Files.” As Twitter executives mulled how to address sharing of the Hunter Biden laptop story, he apparently advised continuing to suppress it because “we need more information to assess whether the materials were hacked.” Sharing hacked materials would have been a violation of Twitter’s policies.

Baker’s firing leaves deputy general counsel Regina Lima as the company’s top law executive, Bloomberg Law reported. Lima currently handles legal concerns for Twitter’s commercial, marketing and content partnerships, but will now be running all its legal operations, according to Bloomberg Law.