May 9, 2019 – Who Were the Mueller Report’s Hired Guns?
By: Paul Sperry, RealClearInvestigations
“Special Counsel Robert Mueller spent more than $732,000 on outside contractors, including private investigators and researchers, records show, but his office refuses to say who they were. While it’s not unusual for special government offices to outsource for services such as computer support, Mueller also hired contractors to compile “investigative reports” and other “information.”
The arrangement has led congressional investigators, government watchdog groups and others to speculate that the private investigators and researchers who worked for the special counsel’s office might have included Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS, the private research firm that hired Steele to produce the Russia collusion dossier for the Clinton campaign.
They suspect the dossier creators may have been involved in Mueller’s operation – and even had a hand in his final report – because the special counsel sent his team to London to meet with Steele within a few months of taking over the Russia collusion investigation in 2017. Also, Mueller’s lead prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, had shared information he received from Fusion with the media.
Raising additional suspicions, Mueller’s report recycles the general allegations leveled in the dossier. And taking a page from earlier surveillance-warrant applications in the Russia investigation, it cites as supporting evidence several articles – including one by Yahoo! News – that used Steele and Fusion as sources.
Mueller even kept alive one of the dossier’s most obscene accusations – that Moscow had “compromising tapes” of Trump with Russian hookers – by slipping into a footnote an October 2016 text Trump lawyer Michael Cohen received from a “Russian businessman,” who cryptically intimated, “Stopped flow of tapes from Russia.” Lawyers for the businessman, Giorgi Rtskhiladze (who is actually a Georgian-American), are demanding a retraction of the footnote, arguing Mueller omitted the part of his text where he said he did not believe the rumor about the tapes, for which no evidence has ever surfaced.
Mueller’s reliance on the Steele dossier is raising questions because it occurred long after FBI Director James B. Comey described the dossier as “salacious and unverified.”
U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said the report should be renamed “The Mueller Dossier,” because he says it contains a lot of similar innuendo. Even though Mueller failed to corroborate key allegations leveled in the dossier, Nunes said his report twists key facts to put a collusion gloss on events. He also asserted that it selectively quotes from Trump campaign emails and omits exculpatory information in ways that cast the campaign’s activities in the most sinister light.
Steele’s 17-memo dossier alleged that the Trump campaign was involved in “a well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” with the Russian government to rig the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor. It claimed this conspiracy “was managed on the Trump side by Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, who was using foreign policy adviser Carter Page and others as intermediaries.” Specifically, the dossier accused Page of secretly meeting with Kremlin officials in July 2016 to hatch a plot to release dirt on Hillary Clinton. And it accused Manafort of being corrupted by Russian President Vladimir Putin through his puppets in the Ukraine.
Likewise, Mueller’s report focuses on Manafort and Page and whether they “committed crimes by colluding with Russian government officials with respect to the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.”
Though the investigation did not establish that Page coordinated with the Russian government, the Mueller report implies there may be a kernel of truth to the dossier’s charges.
“In July 2016, Campaign foreign policy advisor Carter Page traveled in his personal capacity to Moscow and gave the keynote address at the New Economic School,” according to the section on him. “Page had lived and worked in Russia between 2003 and 2007. After returning to the United States, Page became acquainted with at least two Russian intelligence officers, one of whom was later charged in 2015 with conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of Russia.”
Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, heads to a news conference at RIA Novosti news agency in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. Page said he was in Moscow on a visit to meet with businessmen and politicians.
Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow and his advocacy for pro-Russian foreign policy drew media attention,” Mueller’s narrative continued. “July 2016 was also the month WikiLeaks first released emails stolen by the GRU [Russian intelligence] from the DNC.”
“Page acknowledged that he understood that the individuals he has associated with were members of the Russian intelligence services,” the report added, implying that Page in the 2015 case (referenced above) knowingly cavorted with Russian spies, which echoes charges Steele made in his dossier.
But federal court records make it clear that Page did not know that those men were Russian agents.
Mueller also left out of his report a detail RealClearInvestigations has previously reported: that Page was a cooperating witness in the case in question, helping the FBI eventually put a Russian agent behind bars in 2016. Nor did Mueller see fit to include in his report another exculpatory detail revealed in agent Gregory Mohaghan’s complaint and reported earlier by RCI — namely, that the Russians privately referred to Page as “an idiot” who was unworthy of recruitment.
Excluding such details is curious, given that the Mueller report quotes from the same FBI complaint and cites it in its footnotes. Similarly, in its section dealing with Manafort, the Mueller report echoes the dossier’s claims that the Trump campaign chairman was in cahoots with the Kremlin, even though Mueller never charged him with conspiring to collude with Russia.
The special prosecutor’s report indicated that one of Manafort’s Kremlin handlers was Konstantin Kilimnik.
“Manafort briefed Kilimnik on the state of the Trump Campaign and Manafort’s plan to win the election,” it said. “That briefing encompassed the Campaign’s messaging and its internal polling data. It also included discussion of ‘battleground’ states, which Manafort identified as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.”
Except that this wouldn’t have been an unusual conversation: Kilimnik was a longtime Manafort employee who ran the Ukraine office of his lobbying firm. Footnotes in Mueller’s report show that Manafort shared campaign information to impress a former business partner, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who was suing him over financial losses. Mueller failed to tie the information exchange to Russian espionage. He also failed to mention that Deripaska is an FBI informant.
Mueller’s team worked closely with dossier author Steele, a long-retired British intelligence officer who worked for the Clinton campaign. Mueller’s investigators went to London to consult with Steele for at least two days in September 2017 while apparently using his dossier as an investigative road map and central theory to his collusion case. Steele now runs a private research and consulting firm in London, Orbis Business Intelligence.
It’s not clear if Mueller’s office paid Steele, but recently released FBI records show the bureau previously made a number of payments to him, and at one point during the 2016 campaign offered him $50,000 to continue his dossier research. Steele was also paid through the Clinton campaign, earning $168,000 for his work on the dossier.
Expenditure statements show that the Special Counsel’s Office outsourced “investigative reports” and “information” to third-party contractors during Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian “collusion” during the 2016 presidential election.
Over the past few months, Mueller’s office has rejected several formal requests from RealClearInvestigations for contract details, including who was hired and how much they were paid.
Washington-based Judicial Watch suspects Mueller’s office may have farmed out work to the private Washington research firm Fusion GPS or its subcontractor Steele, both of whom were paid by the Clinton camp during the 2016 presidential election. Several law enforcement and Hill sources who spoke with RCI also believe Steele and Fusion GPS were deputized in the investigation.
The government watchdog group has requested that the Justice Department turn over the contracting records, along with all budget requests Mueller submitted to the attorney general during his nearly two-year investigation. It’s also requested all communications between the Special Counsel’s Office and the private contractors it used.
A Judicial Watch spokesman said its Freedom of Information Act request is pending.
Special counsel spokesman Peter Carr declined comment when asked specifically if Mueller’s team hired or collaborated with Fusion GPS or any of its subcontractors. Mueller took over the FBI’s Russia probe in May 2017, whereupon he hired many of the agents who handled Steele and pored over his dossier.
For the first reporting period ending Sept. 30, 2017, and covering just four months, the Special Counsel’s Office reported paying $867 to unnamed contractors for “investigative reports/information,” along with $3,554 in “miscellaneous” payments to contractors.
In the next reporting period ending March 31, 2018, the office stopped breaking out investigative reports and information as a separate line item, lumping such contractual services under the category “Other,” which accounted for a total of $10,812, or more than 4% of the total spending on outside contracts.
For the six months ending Dona – the latest reporting period for which there is data – Mueller’s office showed a total of $310,732 in payments to outside contractors. For the first time, it did not break out such expenses into subcategories, though it noted that the lion’s share of the $310,000 was spent on “IT services.”
Mueller concluded his investigation and delivered his final report in March. The next expenditure report, for the period October 2018-March 2019, will cover contract work directly tied to compiling the report.
Asked if the contracting details were classified, Carr demurred. If the information is not deemed classified, it must be made public, Judicial Watch maintains.
Republican critics on the Hill say Mueller’s written narrative was slanted to give the impression there still might be something to the dossier’s most salacious allegations, even though Mueller found no evidence corroborating them or establishing that Trump or his campaign coordinated or cooperated with Russian meddling in the election.
“Whoever wrote the report leaves you with the idea there’s still something to all the allegations of collusion that were first promoted by the dossier,” said a witness who was interviewed by Mueller’s investigators late in the probe and is referenced in the report.
In a section on Donald Trump Jr., moreover, the report gives the misimpression that the president’s oldest son was collaborating with WikiLeaks on the release of the Clinton campaign emails.
“Donald Trump Jr. had direct electronic communications with WikiLeaks during the campaign period,” it stated.
In fact, Trump got an unsolicited message through his Twitter account from WikiLeaks. He described the outreach as “weird” in an email to senior Trump campaign staff at the time. Other contemporaneous messages make it clear he had no advance knowledge about any Clinton emails released by WikiLeaks.
The FBI first began receiving memos from Steele’s dossier in early July 2016 and used the documents as the foJeundation for its October 2016 application for a warrant to wiretap the private communications of Page. These milestones are missing from the Mueller report’s chronology of events. In fact, neither Steele nor his dossier is mentioned by name anywhere in the first half of the report dealing with collusion, though their allegations are hashed out.
Some Mueller critics are focused on the role played by his top prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, a Democrat and Hillary Clinton supporter with longstanding ties to Steele and Fusion GPS.
“Weissman had a lot to do with the way the report was written,” said author Jerome Corsi, who, as a friend of Trump confidant Roger Stone, was targeted by Mueller. “That’s why it’s basically a political document.”
Corsi said he spent more than 40 hours with Mueller’s prosecutors and investigators, who grilled him about possible ties to WikiLeaks but never charged him with a crime.
Formerly a top Justice Department official under Obama, Weissmann not only donated to Clinton’s presidential campaign but also attended her election-night party in New York City in November 2016. Three months earlier, he was briefed on Steele’s dossier and other dirt provided by the Clinton contractor and paid FBI informant. In early 2017, Weissmann helped advance the Russia collusion narrative by personally sharing Steele’s and Fusion’s dirt on Trump and his advisers with Washington reporters.
In an April 2017 meeting he arranged at his office, Weissmann gave guidance to four Associated Press reporters who were investigating Manafort, according to internal FBI documents.
Among other things, they discussed rumors that Manafort used “some of the money from shell companies to buy expensive suits.” A month later, Weissmann became the lead prosecutor handling the Manafort case for Mueller. His February 2018 indictment of Manafort highlights, among other things, the Trump adviser’s taste for expensive suits.
Attempts to reach Weissmann for comment were unsuccessful.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said there are signs Mueller may have hired “researchers” like Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson, who worked with Steele on the dossier, along with Edward Baumgartner and Nellie Ohr, who have worked for Fusion GPS, which originally hired Steele in June 2016 after contracting with the Clinton campaign.
“I ran into Glenn at the 2017 Aspen Security [Forum], and I distinctly remember him leaning in and claiming he was working for the government,” said one associate, who wished to remain anonymous.
Congressional investigators say Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, has been feeding Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate investigative tips regarding Trump and his associates, including Manafort.
In 2017, for instance, he urged Democrats specifically to look into the bank records of Deutsche Bank, which has financed some of Trump’s businesses, because he suspected some of the funding may have been laundered through Russia.
Around the time Simpson began coordinating with Democratic investigators looking into Trump’s bank records, Mueller subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for financial records for Manafort and other individuals affiliated with Trump.
Simpson did not return calls and emails seeking comment.
Founded by the journalist-turned-opposition researcher, Fusion has rehired Steele to continue his anti-Trump work with millions of dollars in left-wing funding from The Democracy Integrity Project, a Washington-based nonprofit started in 2017 by former FBI analyst Daniel Jones, who also worked for Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
In March 2017, Jones met with FBI agents to provide them data he collected from IT specialists he hired to analyze web traffic between servers maintained by the Trump Organization and a Russian bank mentioned in the dossier. The traffic turned out to be innocuous marketing emails, or spam. (RealClearInvestigations, 5/09/2019)
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- Andrew Weissmann
- Carter Page
- Christopher Steele
- Clinton campaign
- Clinton/DNC/Steele Dossier
- Devin Nunes
- Donald Trump Jr.
- Edward Baumgartner
- Fusion GPS
- Glenn Simpson
- Gregory Mohaghan
- House Intelligence Committee
- Jerome Corsi
- Konstantin Kilimnik
- May 2019
- Michael Cohen
- Mueller Report
- Nellie Ohr
- Oleg Deripaska
- Paul Manafort
- private contractors
- Robert Mueller
- Russia collusion
March 28, 2019 – Nellie Ohr’s full transcript is released
(…) “Beginning in September 2015, Ohr began working for Fusion GPS. Ohr told investigators that she “read an article in the paper that mentioned Glenn Simpson. And I remembered because he had been a Wall Street Journal reporter working on things like Russian crime and corruption, so I recognized the name. I was underemployed at that time and I was looking for opportunities.”
When later questioned as to her previous knowledge of Simpson, Ohr stated, “I had been at a conference that he was at. I don’t recall directly talking with him at that conference, and I don’t know whether he knew who, you know, who I was other than the fact that I attended that conference.”
Ohr acknowledged to congressional investigators that Simpson was acquainted with her husband, Bruce Ohr. (read more)
The implication here is that Nellie Ohr approached Fusion-GPS owner Glenn Simpson for a job; essentially to work on political opposition research files Fusion-GPS was assembling in 2015. This is distinctly different from Glenn Simpson seeking out Nellie Ohr, and opens the entire background to larger ramifications.
Our research has always indicated that Nellie’s work product was transmitted to Christopher Steele as part of an intelligence laundry process. Chris Steele laundered Nellie’s information, provided second verification where possible, formatted into an official intelligence file, and returned that file -now named the Steele Dossier- to the FBI.
However, if it becomes verified that it was CIA contracted (former or current) Nellie Ohr who approached Simpson, then it becomes possible, perhaps likely, the intelligence information (seeds carried by Nellie), originated from the CIA.
Nellie Ohr petitioning Glenn Simpson for a job would be an explosive change in the dynamic. However, it could further explain some other unusual side-issues including why Nellie suddenly started using a HAM radio.
First, this revelation would imply that an inside government effort from the CIA was likely the origination of material that Nellie would “discover” while working for Fusion. Under this possibility the laundry process would have two washes.
The first wash was from some unknown CIA intelligence sources to Nellie Ohr…. The second wash was from Nellie Ohr to Christopher Steele (the second wash we always knew).
Second, whether Glenn Simpson knew of Nellie’s intent, or was likely willfully blind, is another question. I tend to think it didn’t really matter. Simpson hired Nellie to get valuable oppo-research he could turn into a commodity.
Simpson wouldn’t necessarily care how Nellie found the information, and he knew her background in the intelligence research community. The commodity was always the Trump-research file; which was then sold to the Clinton campaign after the contract with the DNC was made through Perkins Coie.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 3/28/2019)
December 3, 2018 – Grassley accuses Fusion GPS founder, Glenn Simpson, of giving ‘extremely misleading’ testimony
“Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is drawing parallels between the false testimony that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen gave to Congress in 2017 and the “extremely misleading” statements made by the founder of the firm that commissioned the infamous Steele dossier.
“I hope that the Justice Department is handling all these instances of false statements to Congress with the same level of seriousness they treated Mr. Cohen’s,” Grassley, an Iowa Republican, wrote Monday in a letter to Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Cohen pleaded guilty on Nov. 29 in the special counsel’s investigation to lying to Congress in 2017 about the extent of his attempts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen admitted he lied about how long he worked on the project, which was ultimately scuttled in June 2016.
Grassley accused Glenn Simpson, a co-founder of Fusion GPS, of possibly lying during his Aug. 22, 2017 testimony when he claimed that his firm was not working for a client to investigate President Donald Trump after the 2016 election.
“So you didn’t do any work on the Trump matter after the election date, that was the end of your work?” Simpson was asked in his deposition.
“I had no client after the election,” said Simpson.
“As we now know, that was extremely misleading, if not an outright lie,” Grassley asserted in his letter to Blumenthal.
Grassley noted that a former Senate staffer named Daniel Jones told the FBI in March 2017 that he hired Fusion GPS and former British spy Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier, after the election to continue an investigation into Trump’s possible ties to Russia. (Read more: Daily Caller, 12/04/2018)
December 3, 2018 – Judicial Watch sues for records of FBI meetings with Clinton-DNC law firm, Perkins Coie in 2016
“Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice seeking records of all meetings in 2016 between former FBI General Counsel James Baker and the Perkins Coie law firm. The Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) reportedly paid Fusion GPS to create the “salacious and unverified” Clinton-DNC anti-Trump dossier.
The lawsuit cites a specific media report that FBI top lawyer Baker met with Perkins Coie lawyers to discuss allegations of collusion between Donald Trump and Russia. The meeting reportedly took place weeks before the 2016 election and before the FBI secured a controversial FISA spy warrant targeting then-candidate Trump’s campaign.
Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the DOJ failed to respond to an October 9, 2018, FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-02617)) seeking:
All records concerning any and all meetings between former FBI general counsel James Baker and one or more attorneys from Perkins Coie, the Democratic National Committee’s private law firm during 2016.
On October 4, 2018, Fox News reported that Baker told congressional investigators that Perkins Coie lawyer Michael Sussmann “initiated contact with him and provided documents and computer storage devices on Russian hacking.” The contact was made in late 2016 as federal investigators prepared a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
At the time, Perkins Coie had hired opposition research firm Fusion GPS to dig into President Trump’s background. Fusion GPS paid British ex-spy Christopher Steele to compile the anti-Trump dossier, memos from which were shared with the FBI in the summer of 2016.
The DNC and Clinton campaign’s funding of the unverified dossier was revealed in a memo from House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes which was disclosed publicly on February 2, 2018.
According to an October 24, 2017, report, Perkins Coie lawyer Marc E. Elias retained Fusion GPS in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC: “The Clinton campaign and DNC, through the law firm, continued to fund Fusion GPS’s research through the end of October 2016, days before Election Day.” Fusion GPS gave Steele’s dossier and other research documents to Elias.
“The real collusion scandal is the hand-in-hand effort by the Clinton campaign and the Obama DOJ/FBI to spy upon and destroy Donald J. Trump,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said. “The FBI, pulled by the troika of Comey/McCabe/Strzok, became an arm of the Clinton campaign. And our new lawsuit aims to get to the bottom of the massive scandal.” (Judicial Watch, 12/03/2018)
- Carter Page
- Christopher Steele
- Clinton campaign
- Clinton/DNC/Steele Dossier
- December 2018
- Department of Justice
- Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
- FOIA lawsuit
- Fusion GPS
- Glenn Simpson
- House Intelligence Committee
- James Baker
- Judicial Watch
- Marc E. Elias
- Michael Sussmann
- Perkins Coie
- Russia collusion
- Russian hackers
November 19, 2018 – Opinion: Questions grow about FBI vetting of Christopher Steele’s Russia expertise
By: John Solomon
(…) “Both the DOJ’s inspector general and multiple committees in Congress are investigating whether the FBI properly handled the Trump-Russia collusion case or whether it fell prey to political pressure and shoddy investigative work, as congressional Republicans and President Trump himself claim.
The FBI has an obligation to submit only verified information to support a FISA warrant.
If the FBI failed to perform the sort of due diligence required to ensure that Steele’s expertise on Russia was reliable and that his dossier was verified, it would mark a massive failure in the FISA process.
There are growing warning signs that the FBI may have rushed its due diligence on Steele’s Russia work product, perhaps in part because it had enjoyed an earlier successful relationship in a corruption case involving European soccer.
My sources tell me that FBI counterintelligence analyst Jon Moffa recently told congressional investigators in a transcribed interview that the bureau was still trying to verify the Steele dossier when it was submitted as evidence for the FISA warrant.
“Our work on verifying facts of the FISA would have been — facts of the reporting would have been ongoing at the time the FISA was generated,” Moffa told House investigators, according to the transcript.
Moffa’s statement isn’t the only red flag.
From my earlier reporting, we know that former FBI lawyer Lisa Page told Congress this past summer that in May 2017 — seven months after the FISA warrant was issued, and nine months after the Russia probe was started — the FBI had not corroborated the main allegation in Steele’s dossier about collusion between Moscow and the Trump.
And former FBI Director James Comey testified in June 2017 that the dossier was considered unverified and salacious.
Yet it was used as evidence to justify the FBI spying on the campaign of a duly-elected GOP presidential nominee’s campaign, even though it started as political opposition research paid for by the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.” (Read more: The Hill, 11/19/2018)
August 30, 2018 – An internal Fusion GPS report undercuts Clinton/Steele dossier allegation against Russian executive
“In an effort to bolster the Steele dossier, Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned the infamous report, tapped one of its contractors to investigate a Russian businessman accused of hacking Democrats’ computer systems.
But that contractor, a Russia expert named Edward Baumgartner, came back with something that was perhaps disappointing to Fusion GPS. According to an internal Fusion GPS report obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation, Baumgartner’s Russian sources painted the Russian, Aleksej Gubarev, in largely positive terms. Unlikely, the sources claimed, had Gubarev taken part in the hacking operation, as former British spy Christopher Steele claimed in his dossier.
“Our interviews of people familiar with Gubarev paint a picture of a relatively well-known person in the IT sector with an entirely positive reputation as a successful self-made entrepreneur,” reads the five-page report, which was provided as evidence in a lawsuit that Gubarev filed against BuzzFeed News.
“Our sources were uncertain about Gubarev’s alleged ties to the hacking and collection of compromising material on Trump. Their lack of certainty is entirely understandable given the highly secretive nature of intelligence work, on the one hand, and the technical difficulty of establishing someone’s potential ties to hacking.”
A lawyer for Gubarev pressed Fusion GPS co-founder Peter Fritsch about the Baumgartner report during an Aug. 30, 2018, deposition. Fritsch confirmed Baumgartner, a Fusion GPS contractor who speaks Russian, filed the report, which is labeled “PRIVILEGED & CONFIDENTIAL.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 3/15/2019)
August 29, 2018 – The day after Ohr’s testimony, congress seeks to question his wife
“Numerous congressional sources are telling SaraACarter.com that after Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr’s explosive closed-door testimony on Tuesday, lawmakers are gearing up to call his wife, Nellie Ohr, in for questioning regarding her work with the now-embattled research firm, Fusion GPS. Congress is also seeking access to Bruce Ohr’s text messages and emails with top FBI officials.”
(…) “Nellie Ohr, a Russia expert who was hired by Fusion GPS in 2016 to investigate the Trump campaign, received multiple large sum payments from the research firm, according to a U.S. official, with direct knowledge of the payments.
The payments from the DNC and Clinton campaign were made through the law firm Perkins Coie, which represented both clients. The research firm also hired former British spy Christopher Steele, who was friends with the Ohrs and who compiled the now infamous and unverified anti-Trump dossier. Steele was not only paid by Fusion GPS for his work but according to documents obtained by Judicial Watch, he was also being paid by the FBI from Jan. 1. 2016 to Nov. 1, 2016.
The U.S. official did not disclose the amount of money paid to Bruce Ohr’s wife through Simpson’s firm, but said it “was not chump change, that much I can say.” (Read more: Sarah Carter, 8/28/2018)
August 28, 2018 – Bruce Ohr testifies his wife wrote a separate dossier about Russians for Fusion GPS and he passed it on to the FBI
“And now we learn, from testimony that is still being kept secret from the public, that Ohr admitted to Congress last year that he also took Russia information that his wife, Nellie, assembled against Trump on a computer drive and delivered that to the FBI in 2016 — a revelation that has raised fresh concerns in Congress about a possible conflict of interest.
Nellie Ohr worked for Fusion GPS and, for a time, worked on the same Clinton-financed Russian research project as Steele, according to the testimony.
DOJ ethics rules forbid department officials from working in cases where a spouse has a financial interest, a prohibition that Bruce Ohr said he knew about when he forwarded his wife’s evidence to the FBI.
The way Ohr described it, his wife’s research was like an additional dossier assembled from Fusion GPS research to augment what Steele was separately providing the FBI.
“She (Nellie Ohr) provided me with a memory stick that included research she had done for Fusion GPS on various Russian figures,” Ohr told congressional investigators.
“And the reason she provided that information to me is, my understanding was, it related to some of the same — it related to the FBI’s Russia investigation. And she gave me that stick to give to the FBI.”
Ohr’s revelation about his wife adds yet another example of people connected to the Clinton machine flooding the FBI with anti-Trump Russia research during the 2016 election.
Steele’s dossier was the opening salvo. A document sent to the State Department by Clinton proteges Cody Shearer and Sidney Blumenthal was another. A thumb drive given by Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussman to FBI general counsel James Baker was a third. Simpson’s thumb drive given to Bruce Ohr was a fourth. And Nellie Ohr’s thumb drive would be a fifth. At least three of those work products — those from Steele, Shearer/Blumenthal and Nellie Ohr — resemble what many people might consider a dossier.” (Read more: The Hill, 2/21/2019)
August 28, 2018 – Inconsistencies of Ohr’s Involvement
“Ohr often struggled to explain why he got involved as an intermediary between the FBI and Steele and Simpson in the first place:
Q: “You got the world’s premier law enforcement agency investigating a fact pattern. Chris Steele already has a handler, already is in contact with the FBI; and you allow the person hired by the DNC to dig up dirt on a Presidential candidate to talk to you directly and use you as a conduit. We’re just trying to figure out why you let that happen?”
Ohr: “I took the information. I thought the information might be important, and I wanted to get it to the FBI. It seemed the only way to do it.”
Q: “What information would Glenn Simpson have that the Bureau couldn’t get or already have?”
Ohr: “I don’t know exactly what the FBI had access to, and I know Glenn Simpson was also gathering information. So more information is better. The FBI is in a position to decide whether the information is useful or credible.”
Toward the beginning of Ohr’s interview, he was questioned in regard to precisely who he had brought Steele’s information to within the FBI:
Q: “Who at the FBI did you pass it on to?”
Ohr: “Well, at that point I had—I believe I met with Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and some people from the Department’s—Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and I gave them the information that I had received.”
And a notable point was made:
Q: “Can you see how it might be troubling? You just called the names of two people, neither of whom I think are with the Bureau, one who was mentioned unfavorably in an IG 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. Can you possibly see how that might be troubling to people?”
Ohr also admitted that his actions represented an unusual pattern of behavior for him:
Q: “Are there other cases where you recall taking information from fact witnesses and passing it on to the Bureau?”
Ohr: “I don’t recall specific instances, but whenever I—over the years, as I’ve talked with people who are, you know, experts or have information one way or another on transnational organized crime, including Russian organized crime, I take their information, and if it looked like it—if there’s anything there, I would pass it to the FBI.”
Q: “I’ve been out of it for about 8 years, so you help me if I’m wrong, but a stick, or thumb drive, would be physical evidence for which a chain would exist if it were ever needed in court? And you made yourself part of the chain?”
Q: “Can you think of other instances in your career since 1991 where you made yourself part of a chain of custody?”
Ohr: “Not—I don’t remember getting any other sticks or anything like that, so—”
Q: “And you can’t think of a single case where you inserted yourself into a chain of custody other than this one?”
Ohr: “That’s right.”
Q: “I guess my colleagues are wondering why. Why this one?”
August 28, 2018 – Ohr didn’t verify information from Simpson or Steele
(…) “Ohr testified at multiple points that he simply transmitted information from Steele and from Simpson to the FBI, but did nothing to attempt to verify its accuracy. Ohr knew that Steele held a bias against Trump. He was also fully aware that Fusion GPS was engaged in opposition research—his wife was part of the ongoing effort. Ohr also testified that although he didn’t know Fusion was employed by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), he was aware “they were somehow working associated with the Clinton campaign.” From his testimony:
Q: “Who were Steele’s sources?”
Ohr: “I don’t know.”
Q: “How did you vet those—how did he vet those sources? How did Fusion GPS vet those sources?”
Ohr: “I think—I 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.”
Ohr attempted to make clear his concerns—his reason for passing Steele’s information directly to the FBI—but his logic appeared somewhat one-sided:
Ohr: “I think any attempt by a foreign power to gain influence over a Presidential campaign would be troubling.”
Q: “But that does not include Steele relying on Russians to provide dirt on Trump?”
Ohr: “I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question … I think my understanding is that what Steele was finding out was investigating the links, the national-security threat posed by Russian Government officials attempting to gain influence over the Trump campaign.”
Q: “He was relying on foreign nationals for that information?”
Ohr: “I don’t know who he was getting it from.”
A bit later in Ohr’s testimony, an interesting exchange took place, during which Ohr admitted that the information he had provided to the FBI on the behalf of Steel and Simpson wouldn’t be admissible in court:
Q: “So tell me all of the questions, cross-examination-like questions, that you asked Chris Steele about the source of his information.”
Ohr: “I knew—he would not give me the source of his information, so I couldn’t get it.”
Q: “How much of what Chris Steele told you would have ever come out in a courtroom?”
Ohr: “I’m not sure it would have. It was source information. It was hearsay.”
Steele had no direct connections to his sources of information and everything Steele listed in the dossier was provided to him second- or third-hand. Which creates evidentiary problems:
Q: “I’m guessing you never talked to the sources or sub-sources.”
Ohr: “That is correct.”
Q: “Well, Mr. Ohr, that information would never see the inside of a courtroom, because you can’t cross-examine it. You can’t find out who, if anyone, really is the source of that. Do you agree?”
Ohr: “Yes. But this is not evidence in a courtroom. He is providing information from—this is source information.”
Q: “Best-case scenario, it’s double hearsay. Worst-case scenario, we don’t have any—it could be quintuple hearsay, right?”
Ohr: “I think—I don’t know. It definitely is hearsay, and it was source information, which is what I was telling the FBI.”
Q: “I guess what alarms me about this fact pattern is all the way in December of 2016, a guy named Comey was referring to the information as unverified. That’s in December of 2016.”
To this day, the Steele dossier remains unverified.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 1/14/2019)