Aug 9, 2018, 11:49 AM ET

Trump allies zero in on top DOJ official with ties to firm that researched candidate

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President Donald Trump's allies are mounting a fresh line of attack against special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian interference probe, zeroing in on ties between a senior Department of Justice official and the Washington research firm Democrats hired to investigate Trump.

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Both Jay Sekulow, Trump's personal attorney in the Mueller investigation, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes of California, have called for renewed attention to the work of Bruce Ohr.

Ohr was friendly with retired British MI6 spy Christopher Steele, author of the Trump-Russia "dossier," and Ohr's wife had also worked for the firm that had hired Steele to do that research, Fusion GPS.

PHOTO: Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, shown in this August 2012 file photo.AP
Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, shown in this August 2012 file photo.

"If you look at the scenario of events that have taken place in this investigation in particular, I mean the corruption at the start of it -- and the new information, the Bruce Ohr information just coming out yesterday -- raises serious concerns all the way through," Sekulow said Wednesday on his radio show.

On Sunday, Sekulow told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week" that Ohr's ties to Steele and Fusion GPS "concerned" him.

Nunes echoed that view in a Monday appearance on Fox News Channel's "Hannity," saying Ohr's involvement is troubling.

"I think people should pay close attention to it," he said.

Ohr has not spoken publicly about the allegations and could not be reached for comment. For months, Justice Department officials have declined to comment on matters involving Steele and Ohr. However, a DOJ official noted Wednesday that Ohr was removed from the Deputy Attorney's office when his ties to Steele came to public light.

In testimony under oath to Congress last month, embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok said the true nature of Ohr's role in the Russia probe – when it becomes public – will "reassure" the public and "disappoint" Republican doubters.

Strzok told lawmakers that Ohr provided the FBI one of "a variety of copies" of Steele's dossier that the agency ultimately obtained, but Ohr's was not the first copy given to the FBI.

PHOTO: Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who set up Orbis Business Intelligence and compiled a dossier on Donald Trump, shown in London in this March 7, 2017 file photo. Victoria Jones/PA via AP/FILE
Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who set up Orbis Business Intelligence and compiled a dossier on Donald Trump, shown in London in this March 7, 2017 file photo.

Ohr may have also given the FBI other information, according to what Strzok said in open session.

Strzok testified that in late 2016 or early 2017, he and Ohr spoke as many as five times about "operational" and "investigative matters." Strzok didn't offer any more specifics, insisting the FBI precluded him from providing further details about an ongoing investigation.

It's unclear why Ohr has become the focus of renewed attention from the president's allies in recent days.

Most of the allegations targeting Ohr this week are not new and have been public for months.

Ohr's wife Nellie once worked at Fusion GPS, the private research firm which created the unverified "dossier" in mid-2016 that detailed alleged ties between the GOP candidate and Russian interests. According to a source familiar with her work, the Russian linguist was not directly involved in the dossier project.

Steele, who served as a sub-contractor for Fusion GPS, was once a Russia espionage expert in the U.K.'s MI6 secret service. Steele met Ohr years ago when they traveled in common circles due to their work in the global security field.

Fusion GPS originally gathered information on Trump and other GOP presidential candidates for the conservative news outlet Washington Free Beacon, but created the dossier while doing work for the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

The firm also had done opposition research on the Clintons for Republicans in the past, knowledgeable sources have told ABC News.

A Fusion GPS lawyer declined comment when contacted by ABC News.

The relationship between the Ohrs and Steele is what Sekulow and Nunes argue cast a partisan shadow over the Russia investigation's origins and also a secret surveillance warrant used to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in the summer of 2016.

PHOTO: Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol, Feb. 27, 2018.Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Newscom
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol, Feb. 27, 2018.

Page had been secretly investigated as a possible Russian government recruit as early as 2012 and Trump had identified him early in his 2016 campaign as one of his foreign policy advisers. Page, a campaign volunteer, had a minor role on an advisory committee, according to campaign aides.

In an opinion column Tuesday for The Hill, writer John Solomon cited newly-obtained documents that indicated Ohr was talking to Steele before, during and after the 2016 election – which he argued was improper because the FBI had severed its relationship with Steele on Nov. 1, 2016 for allegedly providing information on his Trump and Russia research to a reporter after he had given it all to the FBI.

Some Republicans investigating the Russia matters argue the FBI and Justice Department failed to properly inform a judge reviewing the request for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant targeting Page that one of their sources, Steele, held a bias against Trump and therefore had dubious credibility.

But in 400 pages of documents recently released in lawsuits to several media and conservative watchdog organizations, law enforcement officials made it clear to the FISA Court in their applications that Steele was working for a private research firm doing opposition research to discredit Trump.

They also noted that Steele had a "reliable" track record despite stating he was "frustrated" that the reopening of the Clinton email probe weeks before the election could help Trump win.

A source familiar with Steele's work for Fusion GPS told ABC News that the retired spy grew hardened against Trump because of his research -- not prior to doing it.

News - Trump allies zero in on top DOJ official with ties to firm that researched candidate

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CComments

  • J'accuse

    I commend ABC for investigating Bruce Ohr's relationship with Steele as supported by the newly released documents. It appears to me that Ohr and possibly others were violating DOJ's and FBI's internal rules governing these counterintelligence investigations. This, at minimum, should be cause for concern. Steele's dossier was used as a basis for a FISA warrant multiple times and if the strict rules governing these applications were broken -- and I don't know that any were -- it would be a serious matter given that it authorized wiretap of an American citizen

  • Bill Paish

    Nunes, again. This man has one agenda, and getting to the truth, plays no part in it.

  • fmd160

    It's unclear why Ohr has become the focus of renewed attention from the president's allies in recent days.

    It's not at all unclear. They are working out of sheer desperation because the sht is really starting to hit the fan.

  • Bob

    Republicans protecting Trump. Trying to impeach Rosenstein. But not until after midterms. Sleazebag Nunes and Jordan and Meadows. Please Mr. Mueller nail them all

  • atta boy

    Anyone that still supports the GOP is against honest people & supports criminals & organized crime.

  • Zdenek Tesar

    You want to have this GOP nonsense resolved and shut Nunes and company up? VOTE in November.

  • think before you type

    Can you imagine if Donald was involved with this on the other side, investigating a Dem.

    Many of you would completely switch sides

    From both parties

  • tj

    Going after Mueller is real witch hunt. Sekulow and Nunes are merely servants to do their masters bidding, except Sekulow gets paid. It looks and sounds like the DJT klan is getting nervous - that's all. Same drivel from this regime, different day.

  • chooch

    Talk about a nothing burger!

  • DK1

    Such desperation by the Trump cult and the GOP. More interest in finding ways to undermine an investigation because it may hurt their cult, than in knowing whether a very damaging, incredibly un-American event happened where the very foundation of our democratic republic, free and fair elections, was interfered with by a foreign power, possibly with the aid of a participant in that election. Proof that they don't care one bit about the nation, but about their "team" and their cult. Nunes comments just solidifies that GOP leadership has intentionally turned a blind eye towards it, and that the fake GOP investigation into the issue was nothing more than a show and a sham.

  • gypsy

    Nunes is an embarrasment.

  • P322

    Stop the witch hunt now.

  • Evan German

    This is the same old trump shell game when he is attacked - look over here ... lookit that! ... no not behind the curtain ... but what about? ... don't you remember whatshisname? ... ALL designed to distract you from the VERIFIABLE STATEMENTS being issued from the other side, also ALL DESIGNED to make you suspicious of the other side, when every piece of evidence so far points to Republican wrongdoing, including separating kids from their parents and (the latest) attempting to 'spirit away' claimants in an ACLU lawsuit against the government using the newly minted, just announced last week immigration policies against migrants and non-whites.

  • ruelph

    Trump allies are zeroing on top DOJ official and the majority of the American people are zeroing on flipping Congress in November 2018.

  • Guiseppe Bootsky

    Tramp supporters HAVE to go after this dude.
    He's Asian.

  • David Leja

    After the recording of Nunes' remarks at a fundraiser, I think we can come to a few simple conclusions. First, that Trump's Republican allies have put him above the party. Second, after Trump, what's best for the party matters more than the Constitution or the country. Based solely on his conduct and ravings, it's abundantly clear that Trump is very much afraid. If indeed he did nothing, he would have nothing to fear. We are truly a pathetic example of the country that we were supposed to be at this point in time. Politics are more important than our country. We've formed our little tribes composed of others like us with the same fears and attitudes. I would strongly suggest that the only things we have to fear these days are each other and our foolish prejudices. C'mon people. We can do better that this. Time to come to the middle from the extreme right and left and become one.

  • James Hurley

    Trump should be indicted for political corruption, perjury, obstruction of justice, cowardice, fiscal incompetence, and terroristic threats against US Citizens.

  • The Omega Dude

    How did the special elections go for you Blue Wave fans ?

  • Forrest

    Hillary and Mueller planned the whole thing and Trump has the emails to prove it. Look for the Dems to go to jail. Thank you Assange.

  • ROBOTIX JONES

    These Trump people do not care about the law, the country or anything as long as they can shield their almighty president.

  • David Howell

    I miss the old days when we had Checks and Balances . That made the Government responsible to work for all We the People . And not the few that has bought them.

  • DeadPool

    Dolt 45's goons go down with him.

  • Samuel Ryan

    Once again let me explain to any trump supporters visiting this site that the Steele dossier was NOT the primary evidence used in the FISA warrants. It was a very small part of overall evidence of infiltration of the Trump campaign by Russian operatives.. This little dust up is a FOX/ White House inspired conspiracy theory meant to muddy the waters.

  • adamrussell

    Imagine, if you will....
    a Trump Opera
    like a modern day Hamilton
    covfefe

  • Susan Riley

    The desperation of the Republicans is beginning to really show, isn't it?

  • OneMoreYes

    This is like the fire department saying, "Wait a second - that fire was reported by a guy who might be a jay walker. How can we trust that he's telling the truth that there was even a fire. We should suspend any more arson investigation into the smoldering, burned out husk of a building until we look into this guy."

  • Priscilla Abercrombie

    Every day, every day. . . Trump's attorneys give us a reason to tabulate another move on their part to prove the on-going conspiracy to obstruct justice. Do they NOT know that Mueller is watching?

  • 40acre

    This might be of interest if the FISA warrant had been based on the dossier. But it wasn't so it isn't. Nice try though.

  • J'accuse

    The direct involvement of Bruce Ohr with Steele was unusual and raises questions. I think the issue will be whether the FBI and DOJ followed their own rules and procedures in the investigation. The FISA warrant on it's face appears to properly disclose that Steele was a paid opposition researcher but that doesn't mean rules weren't broken. The Inspector General's report should shed some light on that possibility.

  • Joe Leggio

    Trump is crowd sourcing extortion, witness intimidation, and obstruction of justice. Nothing new there. His trolls troll, and his sock puppet buds like Nunes drool. Trump wore thin on New Yorkers about 20 years ago, which is why he never ran for office in NY State, his polls were in the toilet. He was directed to disrupt the 2016 elections for his controller Putin, and was able to take advantage of the deep stupidity of the average American abetted by the Russian Trollfarm.

  • Educated

    ...Devon Nunes?....Lol, seriously. He thinks the Republicans in Congress should be protecting Trump instead of the country.

  • kobrakai6868

    LOL. When nothing else sticks, just go with a vague, non-specific accusation about the resume of the wife of a peripheral figure in the investigation. You know, I heard a guy who bussed Trump's table at Peter Lugers once in 1978 was recently seen playing Tetris on his phone. That can't be a coincidence!! If somebody looks closer, I'll be we'll learn this guy drinks vodka too!!!! Come on! WHY WON'T SOMEBODY INVESTIGATE!

  • PlanetDoc

    Trump himself tweeted (August 15, 2018) about meeting with the Russians: “This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics." Why are his own minions now undermining the President's assertion?

  • krussell

    they are really grasping at straws now.

  • subtext9

    Before they go after Ohr, they might look into finding a rudder.

  • Valley Fire

    Regarding The Manafort Trial, Judge Ellis is very cantakerous. He should NOT be able to preside over a trial of this magnitude. A Federal Judge appointed by the President who is NOT one of the 9 members of The Supreme Court has to go on Senior Status when they turn 70. So, the way I see it, the last day that Judge Ellis would have been qualified to preside over a trial of this magnitude would have been on May 14, 2010, which was the last day that he was 69.

  • cptUSAG

    Trump is making Alex Jones look normal

  • Center_Line

    Benedict Arnold Nunes has admitted he will take whatever evidence the House comes up with and go directly to Trump with it.Saying it is his and the House Republicans job to protect the president.
    My question is 'if that is the case,then why is he the House leader of the investigation on Trump?'

  • Center_Line

    Now that we know the House Republicans have admitted that their number one goal is to protect the President,even dump Trumpsters should see that they are Party first.Representing their districts are down the line somewhere.

  • Nearl45 61

    So after getting their butts handed to them by Wray, Rosenstien, and Sztrok... the House goes to the well again.

    Too bad for them the dossier is 100% accurate.

  • Dale Stein

    Nunes, you creep, we have on you tape planning to obstruct justice. You can't hide.

  • Weazerdogg

    No one should care where it came from, who got it, or who the hell paid for it. All they should care about is whether or not it is true, and if it is the worthless disgusting piece of .... should not be in our White House.

  • SeekTruth

    Wow Weird Nunes and newer Trump mouth piece Sekulow teaming up?

    Nunes a non patriot who has commited enough dishonest actions to be considered as Obstructing Justice;

    And Sekulow who loudly and openly shouts admittance that Trump can’t answer Muellers questions because Trump will lie.

    Wow again.