Justice Department official Bruce Ohr told lawmakers this week that former British spy Christopher Steele said Russian intelligence officials believed they had President Trump “over a barrel,” The Associated Press reported Friday.
Mr. Ohr’s statement reportedly came Tuesday when he testified for roughly eight hours in a closed-door session before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees.
Mr. Steele’s comments came during a July 2016 breakfast meeting, AP reported.
It is not clear from the report why Mr. Steele, who compiled and distributed the salacious anti-Trump dossier that started the Russia probe, believed Russia had the influence over Trump.
Mr. Ohr told lawmakers that Mr. Steele informed him that key Trump campaign aide Carter Page had met with higher-ranking Russian Intelligence officials than he previously indicated.
The so-called Steele dossier was used as the basis for the FBI to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surviellance Act (FISA) warrant for Mr. Page.
Mr. Page denied the AP report in a tweet Friday.
“The corrupt DOJ, co-conspirators in the DNV and their high-priced consultants correctly believed they had American democracy and the FISA Court over a barrel in 2016,” he wrote.
Mr. Ohr also told lawmakers that he believed Mr. Steele was credible but he didn’t have any knowledge of whether his July 2016 comment about Mr. Trump was accurate.
He also did not tell his Justice Department superiors about the July 2016 meeting with Mr. Steele because he viewed the ex-spy’s information as raw source material.
Mr. Ohr and his wife Nellie have both faced intense scrutiny from the president and his allies. Republicans have blasted the nearly 30-year Justice Department veteran for his close ties to Mr. Steele.
Mrs. Ohr, meanwhile, has been targeted by the president for her work at Fusion GPS, which was paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee to help prepare the Steele dossier.
On Thursday. Mr. Trump called her out on Twitter.
“Wow, Nellie Ohr, Bruce Ohr’s wife, is a Russia expert who is fluent in Russian. She worked for Fusion GPS where she was paid a lot. Collusion! Bruce was a boss at the Department of Justice and is, unbelievably, still there!” the president wrote.