by WorldTribune Staff, January 21, 2019
Former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr testified before Congress about his central role in distributing to the upper echelons of the FBI the anti-Trump “dossier” at the center of Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe.
Ohr’s overlooked testimony backs up Rep. Devin Nunes’ report that the FBI relied heavily on the Democratic Party-financed dossier to obtain a FISA warrant against Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page.
The Nunes report had been “debunked”, in the view of most liberal news outlets, by the Democrats’ counter report written by Rep. Adam Schiff, security correspondent Rowan Scarborough wrote.
Schiff “downplayed the dossier’s role in a rebuttal report to the Nunes report. His version was overwhelmingly accepted by the liberal media, which declared the Nunes memo ‘debunked,’ ” Scarborough reported for The Washington Times.
In his report, Nunes had accused the FBI of improperly relying on the dossier compiled by ex-British spy Christopher Steele, who was paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Nunes said the FBI failed to tell judges that the dossier was basically a Democratic Party product.
“Nunes supporters say his assessment has survived the test of time as more information reaches daylight,” Scarborough wrote.
Schiff’s report dismissed Ohr’s dossier role: “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.
In his congressional testimony: Ohr confirmed he was the key link among the FBI, Steele and Fusion GPS, the firm that handled him as he submitted anti-Trump memos from June to December 2016.
Scarborough noted that “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.”
Bruce Ohr testified that his messenger job for Steele continued until November 2017.
Schiff’s report said 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. Schiff’s timeline asserts that Ohr’s feed had no effect on the FBI’s FISA application.
Ohr testified before Congress that he first met with Steele in July 2016 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.
Ohr testified that he met again with 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 Lisa Page and Andrew Weissmann, a Justice Department lawyer now on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
After the election in November 2016, Ohr again met with Strzok and Lisa Page. He also was introduced to agent Joe Pientka, who became his go-between.
In September, Strzok sent his counterintelligence team to London to gain more information from 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.
Schiff’s report defended the FBI against 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.
Ohr testified that when he met with the FBI before the FISA application, he knew Fusion was linked to the Clinton camp and warned McCabe that Steele was “desperate” to sink Trump’s candidacy.
In other words, the FBI knew firsthand of Fusion’s motives, as opposed to “speculates.”
Of the August 2016 FBI meeting, 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.”
Ohr added: “What I would say is that, in evaluating any information that I transmitted to the FBI, I wanted the FBI to be aware of any possible bias.”
Question: “So you believe there was the possibility of bias?”
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.”
Scarborough noted that “Nunes’ supporters have pointed to other supposed errors in Schiff’s 2018 report.”
Schiff said the FBI “independently corroborated” Steele’s allegation that Carter Page, while on a public trip to Moscow in July 2016, met with two associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin who offered him bribes for working to ease U.S. sanctions.
Page has repeatedly denied any such meetings took place.
“If Steele’s allegations were in fact confirmed, as Schiff said in 2018, they have not shown up in any Mueller court filings or charges against Mr. Page,” Scarborough noted.
Overall, not one of Steele’s Russia election collusion charges against President Donald Trump and his associates has been confirmed publicly.
Meanwhile, Scarborough added, “Schiff, an active Twitter user, hasn’t responded” to Bruce Ohr’s testimony. “House Democrats have said they have no interest in continuing the probe into Steele or into how the FBI investigated Trump.”