Senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr has provided a point-by-point narrative of his actions promoting the 2016 Democratic Party-financed dossier that conflicts with Rep. Adam B. Schiff’s official version, according to a comparison of the two.
Mr. Schiff, a California Democrat and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence who has promised a wide investigation of President Trump, issued a memo last year on the FBI’s early-on investigation into the Republican’s campaign.
It was a counter to a report issued Feb. 2 by Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican who was chairing the committee. Mr. Nunes won White House approval to declassify excerpts from FBI documents to show that the bureau relied heavily on the unverified dossier to gain a warrant to spy on former Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page for one year. His report included a summary of the FBI application to a judge under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
He accused the FBI of improperly relying on a partisan document compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, who was paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Mr. Nunes said the FBI failed to tell judges that the dossier was basically a Democratic Party product. Mr. Steele remains on the payroll of wealthy liberal donors trying to unseat Mr. Trump.
Mr. Schiff’s rebuttal report downplayed the dossier’s role. His version was overwhelmingly accepted by the liberal media, which declared the Nunes memo “debunked.”
Nunes supporters say his assessment has survived the test of time as more information reaches daylight. In July, the FBI released a redacted copy of the FISA application to which Mr. Nunes had referred. Supporters say its information dovetailed with his report.
The most recent disclosure is Mr. Ohr’s closed-door testimony in August to a joint House judiciary-oversight task force. Parts of the transcript were first reported Jan. 14 by The Epoch Times.
Point by point
“The majority mischaracterizes Bruce Ohr’s role, overstates the significance of his interaction with Steele. … Bruce Ohr took the initiative to inform the FBI of what he knew and the Majority does him a grave disservice by suggesting he is part of some malign conspiracy,” the Schiff report states.
Mr. Ohr was unclear about his motive for his self-appointed mission. His wife, Nellie, worked at Fusion as an anti-Trump researcher. She provided a thumb drive of her work, which Mr. Ohr handed to the FBI. Mr. Ohr also delivered a thumb drive from Fusion that contained dossier memos.
⦁ Mr. Schiff’s report said Mr. Ohr didn’t go to the FBI with the Steele allegations until November 2016, a month after the FBI executed its first spy warrant on Carter Page. Mr. Schiff’s timeline asserts that Mr. Ohr’s feed had no effect on the FBI’s FISA application.
Ohr testimony: Mr. Schiff’s chronology is wrong. Mr. Ohr first met with Mr. Steele in July and personally conveyed the allegations at FBI headquarters in August to Andrew McCabe, the bureau’s No. 2 agent, and his legal counsel, Lisa Page.
Mr. Ohr met again with Mr. Steele in September. In October, before the FISA application, he met with Peter Strzok, the agent leading the Trump investigation, which he opened on July 31. He also spoke with Ms. Page and Andrew Weissmann, a Justice Department lawyer now on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
In September, Mr. Strzok sent his counterintelligence team to London to gain more information from Mr. Steele, who provided dossier memos. At the time, the FBI knew that Russian agents had hacked Democratic Party computers and had sent stolen emails to WikiLeaks. The anti-secrecy website released the emails in July, September and October, creating scores of news stories on internal Clinton campaign operations.
⦁ Mr. Schiff’s report defended the FBI against Mr. Nunes‘ charge that the bureau hid the dossier’s pure partisanship. The California Democrat pointed to a FISA warrant application footnote: “The FBI speculates that the identified U.S. person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit candidate #1’s campaign.”
The “U.S. person” was Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson.
In other words, the FBI knew firsthand of Fusion’s motives, as opposed to “speculates.”
Of the August 2016 FBI meeting, Mr. Ohr testified: “When I spoke with the FBI, I told them my wife was working for Fusion GPS. I told them Fusion GPS was doing research on Donald Trump. You know, I don’t know if I used the term opposition research, but certainly that was my — what I tried to convey to them. I told them this is the information I had gotten from Chris Steele. At some point, and I don’t remember exactly when, I don’t think it was the first conversation, I told them that Chris Steele was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected.”
Question: “So you believe there was the possibility of bias?”
Mr. Ohr: “Yes.”
He also testified: “I definitely had a very strong impression that he did not want Donald Trump to win, because he believed his information he was giving me was accurate, and that he was, as I said, very concerned, or he was desperate, which is what I then told the FBI.”
Overall, Mr. Ohr’s testimony shows he played a major role in inserting Mr. Steele’s anti-Trump allegations inside the upper echelons of FBI headquarters. What followed was Mr. Strzok’s decision to dispatch agents to London in September to receive their first dossier copies.
Mr. Schiff said the FBI “independently corroborated” Mr. Steele’s allegation that Mr. Page, while on a public trip to Moscow in July 2016, met with two associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin. They offered Mr. Page, an energy investor who had lived in Moscow, bribes for working to ease U.S. sanctions.
Mr. Page has repeatedly denied any such meetings took place.
Mr. McCabe was fired for allegedly lying to investigators for the Justice Department inspector general.
He opened an investigation into whether Mr. Trump was a Russian agent after the president fired Mr. Comey in May 2017, The New York Times reported.
CNN reported that Mr. Steele met with Mr. Mueller’s staff in October 2017.
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