‘The proposed redactions have nothing to do with national security and are anathema to our goal of government transparency…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) After growing impatient with stonewalling by the Department of Justice, Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., released unreacted transcripts from the testimony last August of former high-ranking DOJ official Bruce Ohr.
Collins posted the 268-page file on his official website: www.dougcollins.house.gov/ohr.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we gave DOJ an opportunity to review them for information that would endanger national security, but after many months and little progress, our patience has grown thin,” said Collins. “The proposed redactions have nothing to do with national security and are anathema to our goal of government transparency.”
At the same time, government accountability advocate Judicial Watch—whose Freedom of Information requests into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi scandal resulted in the revelation of a secret, unsecured server that she used to transmit confidential information—said it had received 339 pages of records from the DOJ related to Ohr.
Despite being heavily redacted, those records, Judicial Watch said, reveal the breadth of communication between Ohr and Christopher Steele, a British intelligence operative who had been working for both the FBI and, indirectly, the Clinton campaign.
“The records show that Ohr served as a go-between for Steele by passing along information to ‘his colleagues’ on matters relating to Steele’s activities,” Judicial Watch said in a press release. “Ohr also set up meetings with Steele, regularly talked to him on the telephone and provided him assistance in dealing with situations Steele was confronting with the media.”
The duel disclosures come as many anticipate the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into Russian collusion with the campaign of then-candidate Donald Trump to defeat Clinton.
Republican allies of the president have maintained that it was not a question of undue interference from the Russians on Trump’s behalf but rather that of biased and corrupt influences within the FBI, who initiated an intricate smear campaign in their bid to secure the White House for Clinton—and later to undermine the nascent Trump presidency.
“Will [Mueller] find any so-called ‘collusion’? Or was the only ‘collusion’ among agency personnel who hated the president and started this investigation?” asked Collins.
Mueller will submit his findings and recommendations to Attorney General William Barr, who will then determine what to pass on to Congress. Whatever they receive will likely be made public by the Democrat-led House of Representatives.
House committee chairs, anticipating the findings, already have declared that they will continue their own impeachment-driven investigations into Trump.
Based on the behavior of “deep state” bureaucrats within the intelligence community, the Republican-led House in the 115th Congress launched its own investigations, bringing in key players like Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and former counterespionage chief Peter Strzok.
At the center of it all was Ohr, an associate deputy attorney general, whose wife, Nellie, began working for Fusion GPS as a Russia analyst in late 2015, a few months after Trump announced his presidential campaign.
Fusion, a D.C. firm specializing in political research, had been contracted by the law firm Perkins Coie—whose clients included the Clinton campaign and other Democratic organizations—to gather negative campaign information on Trump using Steele as their primary source.
However, rather than issue a public attack on Trump based on the salacious, unverified—and ultimately discredited—information compiled in the Steele dossier, Clinton’s team indirectly conveyed it to the FBI through Ohr.
The FBI, in turn, selectively leaked innuendo to The New York Times and other compliant media sources, then used the public interest generated by the false narratives to justify eavesdropping on Trump officials in warrant applications filed with the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court.
Excerpted highlights of the transcripts of Ohr’s testimony are as follows:
On foreign nationals conveying potentially biased information (pp. 22-23)
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.): How did you vet those—how did he vet those sources? How did Fusion GPS vet those sources?
Ohr: I think— don’t know the specifics. The fact that my wife was looking at some of the same figures, like Sergei Millian, suggests that that was one way they were trying to vet the information. So when I provided it to the FBI, I tried to be clear that this is source information. I don’t know how reliable it is. You’re going to have to check it out and be aware. These guys were hired by somebody relating to—who’s related to the Clinton campaign, and be aware—
Gowdy:. Did you tell the Bureau that?
Ohr: Oh, yes.
Gowdy: Why did you tell the Bureau that?
Ohr: I wanted them to be aware of any possible bias or, you know, as they evaluate the information, they need to know the circumstances.
Gowdy: So you specifically told the Bureau that the information you were passing on came from someone who was employed by the DNC, albeit in a somewhat triangulated way?
Ohr: I don’t believe I used—I didn’t know they were employed by the DNC, but I certainly said, yes, that—that they were working for—you know, they were somehow working associated with the Clinton campaign. And I also told the FBI that my wife worked for Fusion GPS or was a contractor…
On anti-Trump lovebirds Lisa Page’s and Peter Strzok’s involvement (pp. 81-82)
Valerie Shen (counsel on behalf of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.): What was your understanding of why Lisa Page was participating in that meeting?
Ohr: I think she was working on the investigation.
Shen: Okay. And what was your understanding of why Peter Strzok specifically was in that meeting?
Ohr: I believe he was working on the investigation as well.
Shen: Again, I mean, this was discussed last round. Obviously, these two names have been in the news for lots of different reasons. I guess I just want to be able to dispel any notion that there’s anything more perhaps than two officials performing their jobs at the time. So trying to form the question. Do you have any reason to believe that Lisa Page and Peter Stzrok’s attendance at this meeting should indicate any nefarious purpose or concern or implication of bias on the Russian investigation or law enforcement community at large?
Ohr: The answer is no. I saw their participation as appropriate since I had originally conveyed my information to Mr. McCabe, and he in turn had put Lisa Page and then Peter Strzok in contact with me. So it seemed like the natural progression…
On potential conflicts of interest between Fusion GPS and the investigation (pp. 91-92)
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC): How did she [Nellie Ohr] get a contract job with [Fusion GPS founder] Glenn Simpson?
Ohr: I don’t remember who made the contact, whether she spoke with Glenn Simpson directly or whether there was another party or someone else involved. I just know it wasn’t me.
Meadows: So when she came home and said, “Honey, I got a job with Glenn Simpson,” what did you say?
Ohr: Oh, I’m sure we had a conversation at the time. I just can’t remember now.
Meadows: Did you say there may be a conflict of interest if she’s being—if Glenn Simpson is being paid by the DNC or Hillary Clinton and I’m working for the Department of Justice? Could there potentially be a conflict? Did you say anything like that?
Ohr: Well, my wife started working for Glenn Simpson, doing—a contractor for Fusion GPS in late 2015, and I don’t believe it had anything to do with the campaign at that point.
Meadows: So she never talked about the campaign with you?
Ohr: Well, at some point I became aware that the topics she was researching had to do with the possible—
Meadows: When did you become aware?
Ohr: I don’t recall exactly.
Meadows: So when you became aware what was your conversation? Did you tell her that it created a problem for you because you were with the Department of Justice?
Ohr: I think she can work for the firm that has dealings with the DNC. I don’t think that’s—
Meadows: And you can investigate it—while she’s working for the firm that is hired by the DNC and you can be the source that leads information from that same group to the FBI? Do you not see a problem with that, Mr. Ohr?
Ohr: I can’t—
Meadows: I mean, would you do it the same way if you had it to do over again, Mr. Ohr?
Ohr: That’s hard to say. I was not part of the investigation….