Justice Department official Bruce Ohr will testify behind closed doors in the House on Tuesday, and give Republicans a chance to examine how President Barack Obama’s administration ultimately decided to investigate President Trump’s campaign.
Ohr, who at one point was the associate deputy attorney general in the Justice Department, has become the latest target of Republicans because of his connections to Christopher Steele. Republicans are convinced that Ohr was too close to Steele and used Steele’s questionable analysis to launch an investigation into Trump.
Steele, a former British counterintelligence agent, was commissioned by opposition research firm Fusion GPS to prepare the Trump-Russia dossier. Fusion GPS hired Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, to help with research into Trump.
The fuller picture of what Nellie Ohr did for Fusion GPS was revealed in a signed declaration from co-founder Glenn Simpson in U.S. District Court in Washington in December, which revealed that she was contacted “to help our company with its research and analysis of Mr. Trump.”
Then, in February, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., released a memo that detailed Ohr’s alleged contacts with Steele and Fusion GPS.
According to the memo, Ohr talked with Steele — who admitted to Ohr he did not want Trump to become president — before and after the FBI used him as a source, even after the FBI ended its relationship with Steele because he shared information with the press.
The Nunes memo alleged that the “clear evidence of Steele’s bias was recorded by Ohr at the time and subsequently in official FBI files,” but was never reflected in any of the applications to surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Page. The memo added that Ohr “later provided the FBI with all of his wife’s opposition research.”
After the memo was released, Ohr became a lower priority after the Justice Department demoted him.
But throughout August, Ohr has been taking a public shellacking from Trump on Twitter, who called him a “creep,” accused him of making money from “peddling” the dossier, and questioned why he still works at the Justice Department.
“For him to be in the Justice Department, and to be doing what he did, that is a disgrace,” Trump said about Ohr this month to reporters.
According to a GOP House Oversight Committee aide, Republicans are “increasingly focused” on Ohr’s role in getting the dossier to the FBI, and then how it was used from there.
“[They are] particularly curious about his contacts with [Steele],” the aide said ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, noting that there were more than 60 contacts since January 2016, “and when those contacts with Steele occurred.”
“When he comes to Congress tomorrow, Bruce Ohr has explaining to do,” tweeted Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., on Monday.
– Bruce Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for the firm hired by the Clinton campaign to write the dossier
– Bruce Ohr gave the dossier to the FBI
– The FBI then used the same dossier to spy on the Trump campaign
When he comes to Congress tomorrow, Bruce Ohr has explaining to do
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows)
August 27, 2018
The interview, which will happen amid an August recess, comes a month after now-ex FBI agent Peter Strzok testified before lawmakers in a public setting.
Strzok, who has since been fired by the FBI, has come under fire for text messages he exchanged with a fellow FBI employee with whom he was having an affair that were critical of Trump. Both of them worked on the Russia investigation.