Robert Anderson, Jr. is a witness today for the Mueller Report hearings before the House Intelligence Committee. He was formerly Executive Assistant Director at the FBI and now is CEO of Cyber Defense Labs. Here’s everything you need to know about Robert Anderson.
1. Anderson Worked with the FBI for More than 21 Years & Oversaw Espionage Investigations
Anderson is one of the key witnesses in today’s hearing, called “Lessons from the Mueller Report: Counterintelligence Implications of Volume I.” The official description for the hearing reads: “As part of this series of hearings and testimony, the Committee plans to speak with fact witnesses, national security experts, and others connected to the Special Counsel’s investigation to elucidate the issues and findings in the first volume of the report.”
Before serving as CEO of Cyber Defense Labs, Anderson was Principal at the Chertoff Group and Managing Director of Navigant Consulting, according to his bio.
Anderson was Executive Assistant Director of the Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch of the FBI. He oversaw criminal and cyber investigations around the world, critical incident response, international operations, and victim assistance. Prior to that, he was assistant director of the Counterintelligence Division, and was deputy assistant director of operations. In 2001 he was the supervisor in the Counterintelligence Division and oversaw espionage investigations, including coordinating cases involving nuclear weapons laboratories and Chinese espionage.
James Comey once said about Anderson: “Bob has the leadership qualities I believe are essential. He is smart and dedicated and cares about the agents and professional staff who fulfill the FBI’s mission. He has the depth and breadth of casework that will help lead CCRSB and achieve strategic results that benefit the FBI and the American public.”
Anderson led the Harold James Nicholson/Nathan Nicholson espionage investigation, resulting in their prosecution for espionage. When he joined the FBI in 1995, he worked in narcotics and violent crime, and then served on the hostage rescue team. He was deployed to more than 20 countries during his time with the FBI.
2. He was State Trooper of the Year in 1990 for Trying to Rescue People from a Burning Home
Before the FBI, Anderson was a Delaware state trooper for nine years. In 1990, he was named Delaware State Trooper of the Year for trying to rescue people who were trapped in a burning home in 1989.
Anderson graduated with an MPA in criminal justice/law enforcement from Wilmington College and is a licensed commercial pilot, according to his LinkedIn. He’s also a paramedic.
Anderson has been CEO of Cyber Defense Labs in Dallas, Texas since March 2019, according to his LinkedIn bio. According to the LinkedIn description, it’s “a full life cycle information security service provider helping companies manage, detect and respond to today’s cyber risks.” You can see one of Anderson’s recent interviews with MSNBC in the video above.
Prior to this, he worked with The Chertoff Group for a little over a year as Principal and as an advisor.
Anderson also is a public speaker. In late March, he spoke at Neumann University about cybercrime.
3. Anderson Wrote in 2018 that the FBI & Justice System Are Under a ‘Brutal’ Attack
In an article for Delaware Online in 2018, Anderson said that he believes attacks on law enforcement, the intelligence community and the FBI should worry Americans. He wrote: “The FBI and the justice system have come under calculated, brutal attack. Influential actors have smeared them as ‘dishonest,’ ‘corrupt’ and ‘rigged.’ They have described the FBI as being ‘in tatters.’ They have likened it to Nazi stormtroopers. These attacks are unfair, unwise and disgusting.”
He said that people should walk through the FBI’s Hall of Honor for fallen colleagues before “deriding” their work. He said the FBI is driven by devotion to impartial justice and will follow the facts no matter where they lead.
He wrote: “The unrelenting attacks on the FBI also come at a real cost. People need to trust the FBI so agents and personnel can do their job and protect us. If citizens believe that the system is rigged, imagine what will happen when an agent tries to persuade a reluctant witness? How will people react when an agent appears with a search warrant?”
Anderson continued: “Our country can’t afford self-inflicted wounds to our own institutions. No institution is perfect, and if anyone has committed a wrong, they should be held accountable. But it’s wrong to impugn the integrity of thousands of men and women who have devoted their lives to keeping us safe.”
4. After Mueller Removed Strzok from the Trump Investigation, Anderson Said Strzok Was One of the FBI’s Finest Agents. He Also Said that the Investigation Into Christine Blasey Ford Would Test Integrity.
When Robert Mueller removed Peter Strzok from investigating Trump’s campaign, Anderson told CNN that Strzok was one of the finest agents the FBI had. He said Strzok served under him in multiple positions and he promoted Strzok several times. He said Strzok would never bring personal biases into an investigation.
In October 2018, Anderson said that Chris Wray’s investigation into Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, would test his integrity, Vanity Fair reported. “I could very well see this becoming a test of Chris Wray’s integrity. Not because of what these interviews find or don’t find. The agents will do a great job of whatever they are allowed to do. But at the end of the week, if there are unanswered questions, will the director push to do more?”
He said that the higher profile an investigation, the more micro-management. He said the investigation took the burden off the Senate and gave it to the FBI.
“Anybody handing the bureau an investigation and saying you only have seven days is not looking for a real investigation. So I think Director Wray is in a tough spot.”
5. In a 2019 Court Filing that Gained National Attention, He Said Russian Activist Mariia Butina’s Actions Amounted to an Intelligence Operation
Anderson was also an expert witness in April 2019 for a court filing where he said that activities of Russian activist Mariia Butina during the election looked like a sophisticated intelligence operation, Politico reported. Butina’s lawyers said his filing was speculative and blurred the line between networking and intelligence work. Anderson wrote that letting Russia bypass formal diplomacy channels by allowing backchannel communications could lead to “commensurate harm to the United States, including harm to the integrity of the United States’ political processes and internal government dealings, as well as to U.S. foreign policy interests and national security.” Anderson said the Kremlin was looking for access points to influence policy.
Andrew Weiss, vice president for studies at Carnegie Endowment for Interational Peace, said that Anderson’s declaration illustrated the damage to U.S. national security found in Volume 1 of the Mueller Report. You can see Weiss’s tweets below.
Butina’s lawyers say that Anderson’s description would turn all networking done by a foreign national into criminal behavior.