What Bruce Ohr Told Congress
He warned the FBI that Steele had credibility problems. The bureau forged ahead anyhow.
By Kimberley A. Strassel - WSJ
To believe most media descriptions of Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr, he is a nonentity, unworthy of the attention President Trump has given him. This is remarkable, given that Mr. Ohr spent Tuesday confirming for Congress its worst suspicions about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s abuse of its surveillance and sourcing rules.
If Mr. Ohr is only now under the spotlight, it’s because it has taken so much effort to unpack his role in the FBI’s 2016 investigation of the Trump campaign. Over the past year, congressional investigators found out that Mr. Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS, the opposition-research firm that gave its infamous dossier, funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign, to the FBI. They then discovered that Mr. Ohr had numerous interactions of his own with Fusion chief Glenn Simpson and dossier author Christopher Steele, and that he passed on information from these talks to the bureau. So the G-men were being fed the dossier allegations from both the outside and the inside.
This week’s news is that Mr. Ohr’s deliveries to the FBI came with a caveat. Congress already knew that Mr. Ohr had been aware of Mr. Steele’s political biases. In notes Mr. Ohr took of a September 2016 conversation with Mr. Steele, he wrote that the dossier author “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” Congressional sources tell me that Mr. Ohr revealed Tuesday that he verbally warned the FBI that its source had a credibility problem, alerting the bureau to Mr. Steele’s leanings and motives. He also informed the bureau that Mrs. Ohr was working for Fusion and contributing to the dossier project.
Mr. Ohr said, moreover, that he delivered this information before the FBI’s first application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a warrant against Trump aide Carter Page, in October 2016. Yet the FBI made no mention of this warning in the application, instead characterizing Mr. Steele as a “reliable” source. Nor does the application note that a senior Justice Department official’s spouse was contributing to the dossier and benefiting financially from a document the FBI was using in an investigation. That matters both because the FBI failed to flag the enormous conflict and because Mr. Steele’s work product potentially wasn’t entirely his own.
No reference to Mr. Ohr—direct or cloaked—can be found in any of the four applications for Page warrants, according to those who have seen them. This despite his more than a dozen conversations with FBI agents over the course of the probe that addressed the content in and sourcing behind the surveillance applications. I’m told Mr. Ohr made clear that these conversations variously included all the heavyweights in the FBI investigation—former lead investigator Peter Strzok, former FBI senior lawyer Lisa Page, and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. So senior people were very aware of his role, information and conflict.
All this is what Republicans are referring to when they hint that the Ohr interview provided solid evidence that the FBI abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. “Before yesterday, we thought the FBI and DOJ had not disclosed material facts they were aware of in the FISA application. If Bruce Ohr testified truthfully, we now know that to be the case,” Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas tweeted Wednesday. (The Justice Department declined to comment, citing an inspector-general investigation.)
As for Mr. Ohr’s interaction with the FBI, he told congressional investigators this week that while initially he reached out to the FBI, the bureau also later came looking for information about Mr. Steele. That outreach happened after the FBI had terminated Mr. Steele as a source in October 2016 for violating bureau rules about talking to media. So even after having been warned of Mr. Steele’s motivations, even after having fired him for violating the rules, the FBI continued to seek his information—using Mr. Ohr as a back channel. This surely violates the FBI manual governing interaction with confidential human sources.
That Mr. Ohr came shopping the Steele info should have on its own set off FBI alarm bells. Mr. Steele was already in direct contact with the FBI by early July. Why would Mr. Steele then go to work on a Justice Department source, and refunnel the same allegations to the bureau? The likely answer is that the Fusion crowd wanted to exert maximum pressure on the FBI to act. Had the FBI bothered to try to find out what was behind such a pressure campaign, it might have stumbled upon the obvious answer: politics.
Unless it didn’t care. The evidence continues to mount that the FBI didn’t want to know about bias, or about conflicts of interest, or about the political paymasters behind the dossier—and it certainly didn’t want the surveillance court to know. It wanted to investigate Donald Trump.
What We’ve Learned from Bruce Ohr’s Testimony
By Rush Limbaugh
CALLER: My question for you, if the testimony of Bruce Ohr is as damning as it appears it’s gonna be, and Jeff Sessions still does nothing, is he complicit at that point?
RUSH: You’re asking about Sessions, is Sessions complicit? Is that what you mean?
CALLER: Yeah. If the testimony of Bruce Ohr is as damning as it seems it’s gonna be from what’s leaked out.
RUSH: Bruce Ohr, who was ranking in the Department of Justice, his wife Nellie ranking in the Department of Justice, FBI, she, by trade, is a Soviet communist expert of long-standing and many believe an apologist. And there were many of those all through the seventies and eighties and even prior to that in the State Department, at the Department of Justice. We have had plenty of communists and Soviet sympathizers. Brennan, Obama’s CIA director, could be said to have been a communist sympathizer. He voted for Gus Hall, the Communist Party candidate, 1976. How does a guy that votes for a communist end up as CIA director? But it happened.
So Bruce Ohr and his wife, Nellie, have both got extensive ties to Fusion GPS. That’s the firm founded by Glenn Simpson, used to be a Wall Street Journal reporter. Fusion GPS sets itself up now as pretty much a research and consulting organization, and they are primarily hired by Democrats. In this case, Fusion GPS was hired by Hillary Clinton to get the ball rolling on the creation of an opposition research piece on Donald Trump.
That led to Fusion GPS hiring Steele because Glenn Simpson and Steele are buddies of long-standing. To keep the Clinton campaign out of this, the money paid to Steele was funded through a law firm, Perkins Coie, called a cutout, and this is why for the longest time nobody knew that the Clinton campaign and the DNC had anything to do with this because the dossier was originally presented as legitimate intel produced by this guy Steele, who was a retired MI6 agent. That’s the Brit version of the CIA.
And over the course of his career, he developed many contacts with Russians. And so he had gotten hold of these Russians even though he had been retired for many, many years. He got hold of these old Russian buddies, and they gave him this scoop on Trump. And it led to the dossier and the golden showers story.
We have since learned that Nellie Ohr, the wife of Bruce Ohr, may have in fact been a prominent writer and architect of the dossier, in addition to Steele. We know that the FBI has known everything I just told you. The FBI and everybody involved in this has known from the beginning that the Steele dossier is not a collection of legitimate intel on the comings and goings of Donald Trump.
It is a manufactured out of clear, whole cloth opposition research. It’s nothing but a bunch of lies designed to be used, say, in October Surprises, accuse Trump of urinating on a bed or hiring prostitutes to do it while in Moscow because it was a bed that Obama had slept on. You know, get racy stories like that in the media, which they succeeded in doing.
Well, Bruce Ohr, O-h-r, figures prominently all through this story. He was brought up to Capitol Hill to testify, and it was on Tuesday. And he told members of a House committee that the FBI doubted the credibility of the dossier. The FBI. He was in the FBI. He still is! He was like number four down from the director! And he told members of the House that the FBI doubted the credibility of the Trump dossier even as they were using it to get a warrant to spy on Trump from the FISA court.
“‘Not only did the FBI know the dossier was unverified, but they also knew there were real credibility issues where it would never end up in a courtroom,’ said Rep. Mark Meadows, North Carolina Republican.” It was obviously the thinking because nobody thought Hillary was gonna lose. Sara Carter reports Bruce Ohr, FBI knew about the bias before getting a FISA warrant on Carter Page.
Bruce Ohr testified that prior to obtaining the FISA warrant, the FBI was aware that Christopher Steele was biased against Trump. Ohr also stated the FBI knew that his wife, Nellie Ohr, was working for Fusion GPS. In other words, everybody knew what was going on here! They lied to us and everybody else in the aftermath!
I can’t believe Ohr opened up about this, but I guess the pressure of being under oath necessitated it. I was stunned when I saw what Ohr had testified to! (interruption) No, none of it surprised me. The FBI had to know about Steele’s bias. They worked with the guy for years. They ended up having to fire him because he was refusing to obey their instructions and stopped talking to the media! He wanted to continue to pummel Trump when the FBI told him to clam up. And the way he did it was to feed info to Bruce Ohr, who then fed it to the media. So Steele worked in defiance of orders and instructions from the FBI.
RUSH: By the way, folks, the biggest reveal, I think, the biggest news from the closed-door hearing, the House Intelligence Committee with Bruce Ohr, is Ohr’s admission that he still hasn’t been interviewed by Robert Mueller. And he has not been interviewed by John Huber, who is the U.S. attorney from Utah that Sessions has assigned to investigate the allegations of surveillance abuse at the FBI and the DOJ.
Now, I can’t find a single news article about it. This is a couple days ago old so there may have been an article since then. But Bruce Ohr is number four at the FBI. You’ve got Comey; you have Rosenstein, McCabe; and then you had Ohr and over there at another department you’ve got his wife, Nellie. And then you have Strzok Smirk and Page and the rest of this cabal in there.
And Mueller and his team of Democrat inquisitors, many of whom come from the Enron task force and the Ted Stevens fraud trial, the bogus trial, Mueller hasn’t even interviewed Ohr, and neither has Huber, who is Sessions’ appointed guy. And also not a single Democrat attended the hearing that Bruce Ohr appeared at and answered questions.
So the Democrats have no interest in getting to the literal truth of this. This has now become, as you know, its own narrative, its own agenda. And it has one singular purpose, and that is getting rid of Donald Trump.