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The FBI has turned to investment management firm Bridgewater Associates for general counsel hire James Baker.
Baker, who joined Bridgewater as associate general counsel two years ago, succeeds outgoing GC Andrew Weissmann.
The agency’s top legal job became available in October, when Weissmann left to become a senior fellow at New York University School of Law. He joined the FBI in 2011 after five years as a partner at US firm Jenner & Block.
Baker worked as head of the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, which later became part of the Department of Justice (DoJ) National Security Division, between 2001 and 2007.
He had already advised the FBI and worked closely with FBI director James Comey, who was responsible for hiring a new general counsel, before joining the agency.
Baker provided the attorney general, the US intelligence community and the White House with legal and policy advice on a range of national security issues while at the DoJ. After a brief stint as assistant general counsel for national security at Verizon Business he then returned to the DoJ in 2009, serving as an associate deputy attorney general working on a range of national security issues, including cyber security.
The move comes shortly after former FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni, the FBI’s top lawyer between 2003 and 2011, was renominated to the federal bench. She is considered to be a controversial choice after being implicated in a number of surveillance abuses.
Comey said in a statement: "Jim’s experience as a career prosecutor and as a national security official, as well his experience in the private sector, make him an excellent fit for his new position here at the FBI.”
Baker is understood to have already joined the FBI.