Republicans in a joint session of House committees are set to interview former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr this month to gauge whether a complex conspiracy against Donald Trump existed among Hillary Clinton loyalists and the Justice Department.
“DOJ official Bruce Ohr will come before Congress on August 28 to answer why he had 60+contacts with dossier author Chris Steele as far back as January 2016. He owes the American public the full truth,” tweeted Rep. Mark Meadows, North Carolina Republican and member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
His panel and the House Judiciary Committee plan to hold a joint hearing to interview Mr. Ohr, according to The Daily Caller.
FBI documents show that the bureau bluntly told dossier writer Christopher Steele in November 2016 that it no longer wanted to hear about his collection of accusations against Mr. Trump.
But for months afterward, the FBI appeared to violate its own edict as agents continued to receive the former British spy’s scandalous charges centered on supposed Trump-Russia collusion.
Mr. Steele spoke with Mr. Ohr, who relayed the Trump talk back to the same FBI that had banned him, according to FBI documents and congressional testimony.
On Sunday, Mr. Trump tweeted a statement from a congressman who said it seems like the Justice Department conducted an operation to stop candidate Trump.
“If this had happened to the other side, everybody involved would be in jail,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter. “This is a Media coverup of the biggest story of our time.”
The back-channel flow involved Mr. Steele; Fusion GPS, which the Clinton campaign hired to investigate Mr. Trump; Mr. Ohr; his wife, Nellie, who worked at Fusion; and senior FBI agents, including Peter Strzok, who led the Trump-Russia investigation.
Mr. Strzok’s now-infamous text messages to his FBI lover bemoaned candidate Trump and vowed, “We’ll stop” him.
To Republicans, the investigation is important because Mr. Steele’s work, in their opinion, is full of false claims about a supposed Trump-Kremlin conspiracy.
None of Mr. Steele’s charges has been confirmed publicly. Some Republican staffers suggest the Steele dossier, which Fusion and Mr. Steele briefed to reporters during the campaign, is a hoax.
Senate Judiciary Committee investigators have confirmed the Steele-Ohr nexus by obtaining a series of FBI 302 interview reports from November 2016 to May 2017. In one, Mr. Ohr disclosed that Mr. Steele was “desperate” to sink the Trump candidacy.
A Judiciary Committee letter to the Justice Department inspector general said there are “Numerous FD-302s demonstrating that Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr continued to pass along allegations from Mr. Steele to the FBI after the FBI suspended its formal relationship with Mr. Steele for unauthorized contact with the media, and demonstrating that Mr. Ohr otherwise funneled allegations from Fusion GPS and Mr. Steele to the FBI.”
Mr. Steele was a paid FBI confidential human source (CHS) in 2016, according to highly redacted bureau documents obtained by The Washington Times and Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act. The documents do not disclose Mr. Steele’s FBI project. At the same time, Mr. Steele was being paid by the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party, through Fusion.
The FBI fired Mr. Steele in early November after he went to liberal Mother Jones magazine as an unidentified source and disclosed his FBI work and dossier allegations. The bureau’s document on the Steele firing said he was “not suitable for use as a CHS.”
“Handling agent advised CHS that the nature of the relationship between the FBI and CHS would change completely and that it was unlikely that the FBI would continue a relationship with the CHS. Additionally, handling agent advised that CHS was not to operate to obtain any intelligence whatsoever on behalf of the FBI,” the document reads.
It is now known that Mr. Steele did not stop. What remains to be answered are what he provided, how the FBI used the material and whether it reached special counsel Robert Mueller.
Mr. Strzok, when questioned at a hearing by Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, confirmed that he spoke with Mr. Ohr, who was a counternarcotics official and not involved in the Russia investigation. But Mr. Strzok refused to provide details.
“Mr. Ohr gave the FBI documents, which included material that I believe originated from Mr. Steele,” Mr. Strzok testified in an apparent reference to the dossier and possibly other information.
Said Mr. Jordan: “Bruce Ohr, the fourth-ranking official at the Department of Justice, his wife works for Fusion GPS in the summer. He gets information and passed it to the FBI. That becomes the basis to spy on the Trump campaign, plain and simple. This is the first time to my knowledge the FBI has admitted that, and it was good that we got some of that information out today.”
Judicial Watch obtained the FBI court application to wiretap Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page. The application shows the bureau relied greatly on Mr. Steele’s dossier to peg Mr. Page as an agent of Russia and thus justify the snooping.
The FBI, however, did not tell the court that Mr. Steele was paid by Democrats, according to a House report, it knew.
The Hill newspaper last week reported on Mr. Ohr’s notes on a meeting he had after the election with Glenn Simpson, the Fusion co-founder who hired Mr. Steele with Democrats’ money. Mr. Simpson continued to pitch the dossier allegations. For example, Mr. Simpson told Mr. Ohr that Trump attorney Michael Cohen served as a go-between for the candidate and the Kremlin.
Mr. Cohen now is under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan. The subject is believed to be his business practices, not Russia, for which Mr. Cohen repeatedly has denied playing any role.
Mr. Cohen has turned on his onetime boss in what Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, says is an attempt to stay out of jail.
• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at email@example.com.
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