WASHINGTON—Department of Justice (DOJ) documents released on Aug. 14 by Judicial Watch included an email in which then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr agreed to connect a top government intelligence adviser on organized crime and racketeering with his wife to discuss a case.
Nellie Ohr, a former CIA open-source researcher and Russia expert, worked for Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm hired by Perkins Coie, a Washington law firm, on behalf of former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Nellie Ohr was one of a group of Fusion GPS employees who worked with former British spy Christopher Steele, who was gathering extremely negative, but unverified, information against President Donald Trump from his sources in Russian intelligence and elsewhere.
The Steele–Fusion GPS work was compiled into the infamous “Steele dossier” of sensational allegations of collusion with Russia by aides in Trump’s 2016 race against Clinton.
Despite its questionable sourcing and numerous undocumented claims, the dossier was used by DOJ and FBI officials opposed to Trump to spy on his 2016 presidential campaign and thereafter, once Trump was elected.
“These documents show a crazed DOJ-FBI effort to use the Clinton spy ring at Fusion GPS, namely Nellie Ohr, to smear President Trump even before he was sworn in as president,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement with the document release.
“Clinton campaign operative Nellie Ohr may as well as have had a desk at the Justice Department,” Fitton said.
A seemingly close relationship of long-standing is seen in the May 23, 2016, email in which Lisa Holtyn, the intelligence adviser, told Bruce Ohr:
“Hope you guys are having a great vacation. I just met with Ivana Nizich (she told me both she and her husband used to work for you, Bruce—small world!) She and Joe Wheatley [DOJ prosecutors] are working on one of the [case information withheld] and trying to get some general background info that may be helpful to them.”
“I told her that Nellie might be a great resource, but I didn’t want to reach out to her directly without asking you first so as not to put her on the spot. Do you think she would be comfortable with talking to them, and would it present any conflict of interest issues for her or for you?” Holtyn said in the email.
Bruce Ohr, who was then the highest-ranking career executive within DOJ, responded, saying, “I’m sure Nellie would be delighted to speak with them. I’m pretty sure there is no conflict of interest since they aren’t paying her or anything like that. I’ll give her a heads up. Thanks!”
There was no indication in the 330 pages of documents made public Aug. 14 when the requested meeting occurred or what was discussed if it was held.
But the revelation is significant because of the prominent roles of both Ohrs in the government’s use of the Steele dossier and its spying against the Trump campaign.
Bruce Ohr was removed from his position and transferred to DOJ’s International Affairs office after it became known he hadn’t included pertinent details of his wife’s employment in his required government ethics financial disclosure forms.
He received $42,250 in bonuses from 2016 to 2018, during and after the government’s Trump–Russia investigation. Special counsel Robert Mueller subsequently found no evidence of collusion.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) referred Nellie Ohr to DOJ for a criminal investigation in May as a result of evidence that she misrepresented her work with Fusion GPS and Steele in testimony before Congress, as well as her knowledge of ongoing DOJ cases and investigations.
The released documents provided additional confirmation of the degree to which Bruce Ohr used his position to relay negative information about Trump generated by his wife, Steele, and Fusion GPS to other top government officials in the department and in the FBI’s top ranks.
Among the documents is a Dec. 5, 2016, email in which Bruce Ohr sent himself a spreadsheet entitled “WhosWhoSept2016” of alleged links between Trump and various Russian figures. Judicial Watch said the spreadsheet appeared to have been provided by Nellie Ohr.