After FBI chieftains targeted President Trump as a possible Russian agent in May 2017, they also reached out to an old informant, ex-British spy Christopher Steele, creator of the much-disputed election-year dossier, according to new congressional testimony.
The testimony from former Associate Attorney General Bruce Ohr showed Mr. Steele continued to brief the Justice Department well into the term of special counsel Robert Mueller, until at least November 2017.
Mr. Steele’s information was then conveyed to the FBI, suggesting Mr. Steele was feeding the Mueller team indirectly or directly.
Also, Mr. Ohr briefed Mr. Steele’s accusations to then FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and his counsel Lisa Page in August 2016. Days earlier, the FBI opened a probe into the Trump campaign on suspected Russia collusion.
The FBI used Mr. Steele’s dossier as the primary piece of evidence to convince a judge to approve a yearlong wiretap on Trump volunteer Carter Page.
Mr. Ohr said he told the FBI beforehand that Mr. Steele was linked to the Clinton campaign.
“These guys were hired by somebody relating to, who’s related to the Clinton campaign and be aware,” Mr. Ohr testified he told the FBI.
Yet, the FBI’s first warrant application in October 2016, and subsequent ones, made no mention of the dossier’s Democratic Party roots.
The Ohr closed-door testimony was first reported by the news site The Epoch Times.
The FBI’s outreach to Mr. Steele was remarkable given the bureau’s experience with Mr. Steele, who had done opposition researcher for Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.
A year after receiving the dossier, the FBI had still not confirmed his major accusations of Trump-Russia election collusion or the salacious details.
Internal FBI documents also show the bureau graded his dossier credibility as low. The FBI fired Mr. Steele, after agreeing to pay him $50,000, because he went to Mother Jones magazine and disclosed his unverified findings. An FBI document shows Mr. Steele was “desperate” to sink the candidacy of Mr. Trump.
What’s more, Mr. Steele was continuing in 2017 to be a Democratic-financed investigator. Another FBI document showed that Penn Quarter Group, founded by Daniel Jones, an ex-senior staffer to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, received $50 million from liberal donors to probe Mr. Trump. Mr. Jones hired Mr. Steele as well as Mr. Steele’s handler, Fusion GPS.
These facts were unearthed by the former Republican majority of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Mr. Ohr was questioned last August by a joint House Judiciary-Oversight task force last August. He had served as a go-between for Mr. Steele to funnel information to the FBI, both before and after the British ex-spy was fired.
On July 30, 2016, Mr. Ohr and his wife Nellie met with Mr. Steele.
Mrs. Ohr worked for Fusion GPS as a Russia expert and Trump hunter. Before leaving in September 2016, she provided her husband with a computer file on her research.
Mr. Ohr would then meet with Mr. McCabe and Ms. Page, according to the interview transcript first reported by The Epoch Times.
The Epoch Times last week also reported on Ms. Page’s House intelligence-panel testimony, in which she said she knew little about the dossier.
Ms. Page had an affair with fired FBI agent Peter Strzok, who headed the Trump-Russia probe. Both exchanged text messages in which they showed great hostility toward Mr. Trump, speaking of stopping the candidate and impeaching him. On July 31, 2016, Mr. Strzok opened an investigation into the Trump campaign.
In May 2017, after Mr. Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey, FBI chieftains huddled and decided to launch a probe into whether Mr. Trump was a Russian agent.
Mr. McCabe, now acting director, “sought to re-engage with former Mi6 spy” Steele, The Epoch Times reported.
Mr. Ohr reached Mr. Steele, who messaged, “Talked with my wife; I’m in.”
“Thanks. We’ll let them know and we will follow up,” Mr. Ohr said.
Mr. Steele’s dossier accuses Mr. Trump of maintaining an eight-year relationship with Kremlin intelligence. No evidence of this supposed relationship has emerged.
Days later, the Russia probe was taken out of Mr. McCabe’s hands and given to Mr. Mueller.
The Steele link continued. Mr. Ohr debriefed Mr. Steele until November 2017. During this time, Mr. Steele was employed by Democrats via Penn Quarter Group.
Mr. Ohr provided the information to the FBI. The anti-Trump election dossier ended in December 2016. What information Mr. Steele passed along in 2017 has not been publicized.
Mr. Ohr met regularly with other Justice officials, including Andrew Weissmann, now a top prosecutor for Mr. Mueller.
“I would get calls from Chris Steele, and I would pass it to the FBI,” Mr. Ohr testified.
Mr. Steele has made a number of felony charges against Mr. Trump and others in his circle. They all deny them. There is no public evidence confirming them.
Mr. McCabe was fired for lying to the Justice inspector general. Mr. Strzok was fired for his impertinent messages attacking Mr. Trump. Ms. Page resigned. Mr. Ohr was demoted.
Mr. Trump denies he was a Russia agent, and there is no public evidence he is. His supporters liken the FBI’s actions in May 2017 to an attempted coup.