News & Politics

Top DOJ Official Bruce Ohr Continued Working with Fusion GPS/Christopher Steele After Election

DOJ official Bruce Ohr in Mexico in 2012. Agencia EL UNIVERSAL/ Lucía Godínez/ RML (GDA via AP Images)

Hundreds of pages of previously undisclosed FBI emails and memos show that the Democrat opposition research firm Fusion GPS, through former British spy Christopher Steele, worked closely with the FBI, and DOJ official Bruce Ohr, to take down Donald Trump before, during, and after the 2016 presidential election.

And even after the FBI officially stopped using the “dirty dossier” author as a confidential source (because he leaked to the media), they turned to then-associate deputy attorney general Ohr as a back channel to Steele.

Fusion GPS, which was hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to find dirt on then-candidate Donald Trump, has a long history of smearing Republicans for profit. In 2012, for instance, Barack Obama’s presidential campaign hired Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, as well as his donors, to literally create an enemies list.

Federal Election Commission (FEC) records show that Obama for America (OFA) has paid over $972,000 to Perkins Coie, an international law firm, in an arrangement similar to the one that the Clinton campaign and DNC used in 2016.

Steele met with the FBI at least thirteen times during the election year of 2016 and eleven of those times resulted in payments to Steele, according to Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton in a recent interview on Fox News.  However, by that November, the FBI no longer deemed Steele to be a useful confidential informant.

In January of 2018, Senator Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Graham (R-SC) referred Steele to the  DOJ for criminal investigation.

“After reviewing how Mr. Steele conducted himself in distributing information contained in the dossier and how many stop signs the DOJ ignored in its use of the dossier, I believe that a special counsel needs to review this matter. The rule of Law depends on the government and all who work on its behalf playing by the rules themselves. I hope the Department of Justice will carefully review our letter and take appropriate action,” Graham wrote in their letter to the Justice Department.

Senator Grassley is also working on getting a copy of the video deposition that Steele gave in London on June 18, 2018, after he repeatedly dodged Congress’s repeated requests to interview him.

In a new report at The Hill, John Solomon details how Ohr was working with Steele well into the early days of Trump’s presidency, even after the FBI terminated its relationship with him.

Ohr, who reported to Obama-era Deputy AG Sally Yates, was demoted last December, but remains employed at the DOJ. Yates was fired by President Trump because of her insubordination over his travel ban.

Ohr’s own notes, emails, and text messages show that he was in contact with Steele just before the FBI opened its Trump-Russia probe in the summer of 2016, and continued to engage with him as a “confidential human source” (CHS) in the probe well after Trump took office.

“B, doubtless a sad and crazy day for you re- SY,” Steele texted Ohr on Jan. 31, 2017, referencing President Trump’s firing of Sally Yates for insubordination.

Steele’s FBI relationship had been terminated about three months earlier. The bureau concluded on Nov. 1, 2016, that he leaked information to the news media and was “not suitable for use” as a confidential source, memos show.

The FBI specifically instructed Steele that he could no longer “operate to obtain any intelligence whatsoever on behalf of the FBI,” those memos show.

Regardless, Steele asked Ohr on Jan. 31 if he could continue to feed information to the FBI: “Just want to check you are OK, still in the situ and able to help locally as discussed, along with your Bureau colleagues.”

“I’m still here and able to help as discussed,” Ohr texted back. “I’ll let you know if that changes.”

Steele replied, “If you end up out though, I really need another (bureau?) contact point/number who is briefed. We can’t allow our guy to be forced to go back home. It would be disastrous.”

According to Solomon, House investigators don’t know who Steele was referring to when he said “our guy,” but they’re keen on finding out.

FBI officials now admit they continued to receive information from Steele through Ohr, identifying more than a half-dozen times its agents interviewed Ohr in late 2016 and 2017, to learn what Steele was saying.

That continued reliance on Steele after his termination is certain to raise interest in Congress about whether the FBI broke its own rules.

But the memos also raise questions about Ohr’s and the Justice Department’s roles in the origins of building a counterintelligence case against the Republican presidential nominee, based heavily on opposition research funded by his rival’s campaign, the DNC, and the DNC’s main law firm, Perkins Coie.

On July 1, 2016, Steele hinted to Ohr that he’d found dirt on then-candidate Trump: “There is something separate I wanted to discuss with you informally and separately. It concerns our favourite (sic) business tycoon!”

Four days later, Steele presented the FBI office in Rome with still-unverified allegations that Trump was colluding with Russia in an effort to hijack the presidential election.

On July 30, 2016, Ohr and his wife Nellie, who was then working on the dirty dossier for Fusion GPS, met with Steele at the Mayflower Hotel.

“Great to see you and Nellie this morning Bruce,” Steele wrote after their  meeting. “Let’s keep in touch on the substantive issues/s (sic). Glenn is happy to speak to you on this if it would help.”

The very next day, then-FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok formally opened the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation into the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia.

Ohr continued to communicate with Steele and/or Simpson — more than 60 times, according to Solomon, some dating years prior to the election, but the vast majority occurring in 2016-2017.

And he gave twelve interviews to the FBI after the election to share information from his interactions with Steele.

As House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes noted yesterday in an interview on Fox News, Bruce Ohr has become an increasingly “important” figure in the SpyGate saga. In fact, as Solomon concludes, he appears to have played “a critical role” in transforming a Democratic opposition research project into a counterintelligence probe taken seriously by the top echelons of the FBI and DOJ.