Questions for Nellie Ohr

October 17, 2018 Updated: October 17, 2018
Nellie Ohr
Nellie Ohr, the wife of high-ranking DOJ official Bruce Ohr, was hired by Fusion GPS to work on the dossier on Trump.

I call Nellie Ohr “the woman in the middle.” Holding a doctorate in Soviet history, Ohr worked for Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS as it was creating what is known as the “Steele dossier” of uncorroborated allegations of Trump-Russia collusion. She is married to Bruce Ohr, a senior Justice Department official whose involvement in the “dossier” affair—including contacts with the dossier’s eponym, Christopher Steele, a retired British intelligence agent—led to his 2017 demotion. Nellie Ohr is expected to appear for the first time before the House Judiciary Committee on Oct. 19.

So many lines of inquiry present themselves—where to begin? Here is a list of questions I have thought of asking Nellie Ohr.

1) Mrs. Ohr, I’d like to start by asking you a question about your field of academic expertise, the Stalin era.

While a professor teaching Soviet/Russian studies at Vassar, you wrote: “To introduce students to the Stalin era can be a frustrating task. To convey the terror and excitement of the period, one can assign a memoir of a prison camp victim or an observer such as John Scott or Maurice Hindus. Such accounts, however, fail to explain the excesses of the Stalin era, and whether, in Alec Nove’s words, Stalin was necessary …”

Most people have a good idea about “the terror” of the Stalin era. What it is that you mean by “excitement”? What is the argument that suggests Stalin was “necessary”? Do you agree?

2) Before you started teaching at Vassar in the 1990s, you went to study in what was still the Soviet Union to research your Ph.D. thesis on the “stabilization” of Stalin’s collective farms. Could you provide the Committee with a history of your travels to the Soviet Union and former Soviet Union? Did your husband Bruce travel with you on that trip or others? Also, please provide us with the names of the institutions and organizations that issued invitations to you. Did you ever reciprocate by arranging invitations or programs for any Soviet/Russian contacts?

3) In the book “Adventures in Russian Historical Research,” co-editor Cathy A. Frierson recalls meeting you in 1989 in the Lenin Library in Moscow. She writes that you told her of the “remarkable access” you enjoyed to “materials related to the collectivization campaign” in Smolensk. Frierson wrote: “Nellie encouraged me to call the Smolensk archive director, assuring me that he would welcome me.”

This was still the Soviet era, of course. The archive director was a Soviet official. Frierson’s book makes it very clear that American researchers had to operate under guidelines set by the Soviet regime. She and her co-editor write: “The need for official status within the USSR also shaped our topics and methodologies. Both had to be approved by the Soviet research establishment.”

Do you agree with this statement? Please elaborate, and include a discussion of your interactions with the Smolensk archive director.

4) In 2010, you were a member of an Expert Working Group on “international organized crime.” How did you, a Soviet history expert, develop this new expertise? Would you provide the committee with a list of individuals who have or who would vouch for your expertise in international organized crime?

5) On this same working paper, you list your professional affiliation as Open Source Works, which has been described as “the CIA’s in-house open source analysis component.” Would you describe the nature and duration of all of your associations with the CIA?

6) Do you know John Brennan?

7) Do you know Stefan Halper?

8) Were you involved, in contact with, or aware of the so-called interagency working group Brennan set up while CIA director during the 2016 presidential campaign?

9) Simpson, your former Fusion GPS employer, has described you as a “government official.” Please explain.

10) Your husband failed to acknowledge your job with Fusion GPS on a DOJ disclosure sheet, which is reported to have been a reason he was demoted. Simpson failed to mention you when asked by Congress about the firm’s Russian experts. What reason do you suppose there was for your husband and employer both to try to keep your role quiet? Did you ask either of them to omit mention of you?

11) Please describe in detail your role in the creation of the “Steele dossier” and other research you engaged in for Fusion GPS. Sen. Lindsay Graham once said that you, in fact, did the research for Steele. Is that correct? Please explain.

12) On the morning of Friday, July 29, 2016 Steele emailed your husband to say that he would “be in DC at short notice on business” later that day and Saturday. He asked if your husband and you were free for breakfast on Saturday morning. You were and agreed to meet Steele for breakfast at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington.

What did you talk about? Did the DNC emails recently published by Wikileaks come up? Did the recent murder of DNC official Seth Rich, whom Julian Assange would strongly hint was Wikileaks’ DNC source, come up? What do you think of that theory?  

13) Was Vassar graduate Edward Baumgartner, also a Russian expert for Fusion GPS, a pupil of yours? Did you recommend him to Fusion GPS? Did you supervise his work in the creation of the “dossier”?

13) Like Simpson, Baumgartner worked on both the Steele dossier project and another Fusion GPS project, the Prevezon money-laundering case. The Russian defendant in the Prevezon case was represented in part by Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. Did you do any work related to the Prevezon case? Do you know or have you ever been in contact with Veselnitskaya?

14) Do you know Bill Browder? Do you know David Kramer? Do you know Jonathan Winer?

15) Where did you learn how to use a ham radio? Would you tell us why you applied for a ham radio operator license in the spring of 2016? Did you communicate with anyone about your Fusion GPS work?

Diana West is an award-winning journalist and the author of two books: “American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character” and “The Death of the Grown-Up: How America’s Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.