Fusion was paid at least a million dollars by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee to provide ‘opposition research’ on Donald Trump. The result was a salacious and unverified dossier that was illegally used by the FBI to garner FISA warrants to investigate the campaign secretly.
Ohr, a former contractor for the Washington, D.C.-based Fusion GPS and wife of Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, confirmed in her October 19, testimony that election member Serhiy Leshchenko was a source for Fusion GPS during the 2016 campaign.
“I recall … they were mentioning someone named Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian,” Ohr said when asked who Fusion GPS’s sources were.
Ohr claimed that she “was not aware of Leshchenko’s source information, but that she knew he was providing information to Fusion GPS, where she worked between late 2015 and the 2016 election.”
“His source information I am not aware of,” Nellie Ohr testified.
“You were just aware that he was a source of –” one lawmaker began to ask.
“Yes,” Nellie Ohr interjected.
“[Fusion GPS founder] Glenn Simpson? Or was it a source of [Fusion GPS employee Jake Berkowitz] or both?” the lawmaker queried.
“I’m not aware of a difference between them, just a source of Fusion GPS,” said Ohr, who previously worked for the CIA’s open source research unit, Open Source Works.
The Daily Caller reported, “Nellie Ohr did not describe the Leshchenko-Fusion GPS source relationship in greater detail, so it is not clear whether the Ukrainian lawmaker was paid, how he transmitted information to Fusion or with whom at the firm he maintained contact.
“Nellie Ohr did not testify whether she handled information from Leshchenko or if she provided it to her husband, who served as associate deputy attorney general and director of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.
“Fusion GPS did not reply to a list of detailed questions about Leshchenko. One of the firm’s co-founders, Tom Catan, replied “Strictly FYI” in an email, copying others at Fusion GPS. He did not answer follow-up questions.
“Nellie Ohr’s testimony is the first time that a foreign government official has been linked as a source for Fusion GPS, which is best known for its work on the anti-Trump dossier alleging that President Donald Trump and his campaign conspired with Russian operatives to influence the 2016 campaign.”
Fusion GPS hired former British spy Christopher Steele to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia and dug up dirt on Trump, members of his campaign and his family.
“Nellie Ohr also testified to Congress that Fusion GPS directed her to research the travels and business activities of Trump’s children. Nellie Ohr and other contractors, including an attorney named Edward Baumgartner, also focused heavily on Paul Manafort, who served as Trump campaign chairman from April 2016 to August 2016.
“In addition to gathering research and intelligence on Trumpworld figures, Fusion GPS also disseminated its findings to the press. Simpson briefed and met with reporters to pass along information from the Trump investigation.
“Leshchenko, a member of Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau, is widely credited with publishing a so-called “black ledger” that purported to show that Manafort received $12.7 million in illicit cash payments through 2012 from then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
“Manafort worked as a public relations consultant for Yanukovych and his political party from 2004 through 2014, when Yanukovych was forced out of office.
“Leshchenko was a prominent media presence during and after the 2016 campaign, leveling allegations against Manafort and making it clear that he sought to portray Trump as a “pro-Russian candidate.”
On Dec. 11, 2018, a court in Kyiv ruled that Leshchenko’s release of information about Manafort “led to interference in the electoral processes of the United States in 2016 and harmed the interests of Ukraine as a state.”
“Leshchenko’s ledger itself has also come under scrutiny and has yet to be verified as accurate.”
“The head of Ukraine’s Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, Nazar Kholodnytskyi, said on June 27, 2017 that investigators had no proof Manafort received the illicit payments listed on the ledger.
“Manafort has been convicted in the special counsel’s probe of tax evasion, bank fraud and other crimes related to his work for Yanukovych. However, he has maintained that Leshchenko’s ledger is a fabrication.
The former Trump campaign chief has claimed that he did not receive cash payments for his Ukraine work and was instead paid via wire transfers, which are traceable. Manafort has been accused of illegally using offshore bank accounts to hide payments he received for his Ukraine work and of failing to register as a foreign agent for Yanukovych.
Though the black ledger remains in dispute, Leshchenko’s disclosure of the document played a major role in Manafort’s ouster from the Trump campaign and likely fueled American prosecutors’ interest in the longtime Republican operative. Foreign Policy magazine dubbed Leshchenko “The Ukrainian Who Sunk Paul Manafort” in an article detailing his push during the campaign to reveal the ledger.
The Ohrs did meet on July 30, 2016 with Steele. During that meeting, Steele briefed the Ohrs on some of his findings during the Trump investigation.
“Days later, Bruce Ohr debriefed then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on his meeting with Steele, who is based in London. Bruce Ohr would later serve as an unofficial back channel between Steele and the FBI. Steele had been in contact with the FBI before the election, but the bureau ended that relationship on Nov. 1, 2016 after learning that Steele had been in contact with journalists.
“After Trump’s election victory, Bruce Ohr was asked to communicate with Steele and report back any developments on the Trump-Russia front.
“The Ohrs have been a focus of congressional Republicans who believe that the FBI and Justice Department relied improperly on the Steele dossier to obtain surveillance warrants against Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
“Republicans have speculated that Fusion GPS hired Nellie Ohr in order to make it easier to get anti-Trump research to law enforcement officials.
“Fusion disseminated its Trump materials — including the Steele dossier and its research on Manafort — through numerous governmental and non-governmental channels. Steele shared parts of his dossier with Bruce Ohr, the State Department and the FBI. He and Simpson also met with numerous Beltway journalists during the campaign.
“Some former Fusion GPS contractors have questioned the firm’s work on Manafort.
“Graham Stack, who contracted with Fusion in 2016, argued in a Sept. 17, 2018 op-ed that the firm misrepresented Manafort’s Ukraine work as being effusively pro-Russian.”
“As a contributor to the Fusion GPS research on Manafort, I share the blame. Because we got Manafort almost completely wrong,” wrote Stack, who has been investigating both Yanukovych and Manafort for years.
There are so many dirty players in this scandal that it’s hard to keep track of the lies and entrapments. However, one thing rings clear. Nellie Ohr was knee deep in the illegal doings.
“Ohr is a subject matter expert on Russia, speaks Russian, and also is well versed on CIA operations. Nelli Ohr’s skills would include how to build or create counterintelligence frameworks to give the appearance of a series of events that may be entirely fabricated.”
Of course, there was much more. This is just the beginning.