Politics

DOJ Official Bruce Ohr Acknowledged His Dossier-Related Contacts Looked Suspicious

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
  • Justice Department official Bruce Ohr admitted to Congress last August that his contacts with the author of the Steele dossier and the FBI could be seen as “troubling” to outside observers.
  • The DOJ lawyer served as a back channel between the FBI and Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier.
  • Republican lawmakers have questioned Ohr’s role in the dossier saga.

Justice Department official Bruce Ohr acknowledged in congressional testimony in 2018 that his interactions with dossier author Christopher Steele and the FBI could appear suspicious to outside observers.

“You just called the names of two people, neither of whom I think are with the Bureau, one who was mentioned unfavorably in an [Inspector General] report, both of whom had, at least from my standpoint, an unprecedented amount of animus or bias towards one of the candidates, and you are getting information from someone hired by the DNC and funneling it to the lead agent on the Russia investigation,” one lawmaker said to Ohr during his Aug. 28, 2018 interview, referring to former FBI agents Lisa Page and Peter Strzok.

“Can you possibly see how that might be troubling to people?”

“Yes,” Ohr replied, according to portions of a transcript published by The Epoch Times on Monday.

Ohr’s admission would seem to support Republican interest in the DOJ lawyer’s dossier-related interactions. GOP lawmakers have focused on Ohr’s meetings with Steele as well as his wife’s work for Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that hired Steele and was paid by Democrats to investigate Donald Trump.

Ohr also acknowledged that his wife’s work for Fusion could be interpreted as “bias,” according to a transcript of the interview.

In the interview, Ohr was grilled about his meetings with Steele and his role as a back channel between the dossier author and FBI. He was also asked about his interactions in 2016 with FBI officials Andrew McCabe, Strzok, and Page, all of whom have either resigned or been fired from the FBI under clouds of suspicion.

FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok testifies before the House Committees on Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform joint hearing in Washington, U.S., July 12, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Strzok, who led the FBI’s investigation of possible Trump-Russia collusion, was fired in August 2018 because of anti-Trump text messages he exchanged with Page.

Ohr met or spoke with Steele, a former MI6 officer, around 60 times from July 30, 2016 through November 2017. After at least 12 of those interactions, he briefed an FBI agent on his conversations.

Republicans have focused on Ohr’s role in the matter, partly because Ohr’s wife, Nellie, also happened to be working for Fusion GPS, the firm that hired Steele.

The Ohrs met with Steele in Washington, D.C., on July 30, 2016 to discuss Steele’s investigation into Trump.

Days after the meeting, Ohr briefed McCabe and Page at FBI headquarters. He also met with FBI officials, including Strzok, who served as deputy chief of counterintelligence who oversaw the Russia probe.

Ohr also met on Aug. 22, 2016 and Dec. 10, 2016 with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson. Simpson provided Ohr with information about possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia. Ohr also testified that he believed that Simpson provided him a copy of the Steele dossier during the December meeting. (RELATED: Bruce Ohr’s Testimony Contradicted With Glenn Simpson’s)

Republicans have questioned why Steele and Simpson would use Ohr to pass information related to the Trump investigation. By the time he first met with Ohr, Steele had already been in contact with a Rome-based FBI official named Michael Gaeta.

The FBI used Ohr as a back channel to Steele after the bureau cut ties with the former spy just before thee 2016 election. The bureau cut off contact with Steele on Nov. 1, 2016 after learning that he had provided information to journalists.

Ohr testified that Strzok and Page introduced him to FBI agent Joseph Pientka on Nov. 21, 2016. Pientka would serve as Ohr’s main FBI contact. He passed information from Ohr to Strzok.

Ohr testified that, though he informed McCabe and others at the FBI about his wife’s work for Fusion, he did not inform his boss, then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, about his side gig.

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