Republicans digging into alleged Department of Justice misconduct questioned former associate deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr for a grueling 8 hours on Tuesday. In between sessions, the principal interrogators updated reporters, then some appeared later on Fox news. The end result: somebody’s lying.
According to Darrell Issa (R-Ca.), “Bruce has a poor memory. He seems to not remember a lot of details. Poor memories are often claimed by people who want to stick to what they can say and not be caught in perjury.” Despite that, “he’s an important fact witness. He’s given us a lot of specific information.” Information that could change the face of the democrat claims?
“Bruce Ohr is creating a link for us between people who had animus, who were, in fact, desperate to stop candidate Trump from being President Trump, both before and after he became the president-elect,” Issa notes. “People at the FBI knew much more [about the dossier] than they released in the FISA warrant request.”
“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,” Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) head of House Freedom Caucus relates.
Ohr’s testimony makes it crystal clear to Meadows that even the Federal Bureau of Investigation knew the credibility of the anti-Trump dossier would not stand on its own at the FISA court.
Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) wants to know, “who at DOJ knew” that Ohr “continued to meet with Mr. Steele after the FBI had terminated their relationship with Mr. Steele.” He is concerned that the FBI left out “important facts” about the Steele dossier including who paid for it.
Ohr verified that he did things which “broke with protocol,” including maintaining contact with Christopher Steele, “long after the FBI fired him as a source in late 2016 due to his contacts with the media.”
Jordan has no doubt that “Ohr also functioned as an intermediary between Steele and Robert Mueller after Mueller picked up the ball.” Ohr’s text messages back that up.
“We are frustrated with how long this reengagement with the Bureau and Mueller is taking,” Steele texted Ohr. “Anything you could do to accelerate the process would be much appreciated.” A later text assured Steele his questions had been passed along to Mueller.
Ohr did something, Issa insists, that “he should never have done, which was to become part of an investigation that was funded by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton and pursued by Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, both of whom obviously had great animus toward Trump.”
Meadows is convinced that if all the information was fully disclosed to the FISA court, the warrant would not have been approved. “It was not only confirmed once, but multiple times that information that should have been in the FISA application was not, or it appears that it was not based on the footnotes that we have read.”
“I have not seen the actual FISA application. If indeed the information we heard about today was not given to those four FISA judges, there’s a real problem.”
Rep. John Ratcliffe (R- Texas) spent an hour questioning Ohr. He has reviewed the FISA applications, “the unredacted versions,” he vows, “I can’t talk about what’s in there but I can tell you what’s not in there. What’s not in there is any information about Nellie and Bruce Ohr… that’s a big problem.”
Congressman Issa agreed that Nellie Ohr presents an obvious conflict of interest. Bruce Ohr’s wife “knowingly,” because she was paid for it, worked to “find dirt on Trump” and “try to make this connection with the Russians.” He also is troubled that the FBI apparently didn’t disclose the conflicting relationship to either their DOJ superiors or the FISA court.
Issa intends to follow that up. Did the FBI communicate that to Justice, “as they should have, this individual who has clearly created a known conflict?”
“Before the election, our government was involved in [opposition] research against candidate Trump. After the election… the famous ‘insurance policy’ went into effect.” Issa is convinced “that clearly led to the special prosecutor and the investigation we’re now seeing.”
Their probe hasn’t confirmed that Ohr wasn’t “directly” feeding information to lawyers at the Justice Department but he did give it to the FBI to pass along. “We have found that he was working back and forth as a conduit for the FBI,” Issa confirms. “Mr. Ohr disclosed he had multiple “handlers” at the FBI who received the dossier, “There’s quite a list of names.”
“His testimony today was that he gave us a list of a half a dozen senior FBI and Department of Justice officials that he told of his involvement, his wife’s involvement, all of the details of their interactions with Christopher Steele, with Glenn Simpson, with the payment,” Ratcliffe adds, familiar names.
“What I heard today in Bruce Ohr’s testimony was shocking, alarming and disappointing. These kinds of things did not happen in the Justice Department where I worked,” Ratcliffe added. “If I were one of those folks that were identified today,” Ratcliffe assures, “I’d retain a really good lawyer.”
Matt Gaetz (R-Fl.) was bothered by Ohr’s answers which conflicted with earlier testimony from both Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS and Lisa Page about how much collaboration there was between Simpson and Ohr. “It’s either Bruce Ohr is lying or Glenn Simpson is lying and, in another circumstance, it’s either Bruce Ohr is lying or Lisa Page is lying.”
“Until today, we were not certain that the FBI knew all of the things at the time that they were making initial FISA application and subsequent renewals,” Rep. Gaetz explains. “What we’ve learned today is that the FBI was absolutely in possession of material facts that they withheld from the FISA courts.”