A key anti-Trump researcher for dossier orchestrator Fusion GPS told Congress she would shy away from conducting similar Russia research into Hillary Clinton, according to an interview transcript.
“Because I favored Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate,” Nellie Ohr testified in October before a special House Judiciary-Oversight task force.
Mrs. Ohr is the wife of Bruce Ohr, a former associate deputy attorney general. He turned out to be the messenger to the FBI for British ex-spy Christopher Steele, who wrote the dossier, and Fusion, which paid Mr. Steele with money from the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Mrs. Ohr, whose transcript was released by Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, told of how Fusion used her Kremlin expertise to investigate ties between President Trump and various Russians.
“I would probably have been less comfortable doing opposition research that would have gone against Hillary Clinton,” said Ms. Ohr, a Harvard- and Stanford-educated Russian historian.
She testified that she provided her Trump research to a Fusion handler and later the information would show up in the news media.
Republican questioners focused on a critical breakfast meeting she attended with her husband and Mr. Steele on July 30, 2016, at the Mayflower Hotel in the District of Columbia.
Mr. Steele showed a page of his dossier to the Ohrs. From that meeting, Mr. Ohr then met with Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and his counsel, Lisa Page. The FBI opened a probe July 31 into the Trump campaign and possible election collusion with the Kremlin.
It was the beginning of Mr. Ohr’s unofficial role as a messenger to make sure the FBI received Mr. Steele’s and Fusion’s opposition research.
“My understanding was that Chris Steele was hoping that Bruce would put in a word with the FBI to follow-up on the information in some way,” Mrs. Ohr testified.
Mr. Ohr ended up delivering two computer memory sticks to the FBI, one from his wife and one from Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson, according to his August testimony to the same task force.
Mr. Steele also would return to Washington in September and October to provide his anti-Trump accusations to a bevy of reporters.
The task-force probe into how the FBI investigated Mr. Trump has given way to the Democrats who have at least three House committees investigating the president’s political, family and business life.
Special counsel Robert Mueller ended his Russian investigation March 22. He said he didn’t find evidence that the Trump campaign conspired with Moscow to hack Democratic Party computers or to create fake social-media attacks on Mrs. Clinton.
Republicans say the conclusion underscores their belief that Mr. Steele’s dossier is a hoax filled with false charges. Mr. Steele’s sources are identified in his dossier as Russian intelligence and government operatives.
Mrs. Ohr said her interest in Mr. Trump goes back more than a decade to when he sold a Palm Beach beachfront mansion to Russian billionaire industrialist Dmitry Rybolovlev.
Mr. Trump bought the mansion at a bankruptcy auction for $40 million and sold it two years later to Mr. Rybolovlev for $95 million.
A Trump Organization official told The Washington Times that the sale was handled by Sotheby’s and that Mr. Trump did not speak with Mr. Rybolovlev.
Mrs. Ohr testified, “I came to the conclusion that Mr. Trump’s dealings with Russian business people were very concerning, that they seemed to show a disregard for staying within the law, I guess I could say. I don’t have any evidence that would stand up in court.”
Mr. Trump has traveled to Russia three times over more than 20 years. He has looked at several sites to build a hotel tower there, but no plan ever came close to fruition.