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U.S. Constitution
See other U.S. Constitution Articles

Title: Bruce Ohr May Have Broken More Than The Law By Pushing His Wife’s Opposition Research To The FBI
Source: thefederalist
URL Source: http://thefederalist.com/2018/08/16 ... on-research-fbi/#disqus_thread
Published: Aug 18, 2018
Author: staff
Post Date: 2018-08-18 20:27:27 by buckeroo
Keywords: None
Views: 340
Comments: 7

Did Ohr 'personally and substantially' participate in a particular matter in which his spouse had a 'financial interest' while he worked for the Justice Department?

A review of publicly available information causes a reasonable person to wonder whether Bruce Ohr broke the law by promoting his wife’s anti-Trump research to the FBI when he was working at the Justice Department.

The law prohibits public officials from involvement in matters in which their spouse has a financial interest. The question is, Did Ohr “personally and substantially” participate in a particular matter in which his spouse had a “financial interest” while he was employed by the Justice Department as the assistant attorney general? Let’s take a closer look.

Recall that the Hillary Clinton campaign (through its law firm Perkins Coie) hired opposition research firm Fusion GPS to generate dirt on Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential campaign. Fusion GPS in turn hired former British spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the Trump dossier containing as yet unproven allegations of Russian dirt on Trump.

We learned in December that Ohr met with Fusion GPS in November 2016 — a critical time frame — while he was the associate deputy attorney general. Former FBI agent Peter Strzok has confirmed Ohr fed the FBI documents pertinent to the investigation into Trump’s Russia ties, and The Hill reported the FBI used Ohr to continue collecting information from Steele, even after it terminated him as a source for leaking word of the investigation to the media.

John Solomon filled in the contours of Ohr’s role in the investigation, writing in The Hill of recently disclosed emails:

They also confirm that Ohr later became a critical conduit of continuing information from Steele after the FBI ended the Brit’s role as an informant. …

The FBI specifically instructed Steele that he could no longer ‘operate to obtain any intelligence whatsoever on behalf of the FBI,’ those memos show.

Yet, Steele asked Ohr in the Jan. 31 text exchange if he could continue to help feed information to the FBI: ‘Just want to check you are OK, still in the situ and able to help locally as discussed, along with your Bureau colleagues.’

‘I’m still here and able to help as discussed,’ Ohr texted back. ‘I’ll let you know if that changes.’

Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy recently expressed alarm that Ohr would insert himself into the ongoing Russia investigation. Understandably so. The FBI acts as the Justice Department’s investigator, and normally must convince the DOJ that the quality and quantity of gathered evidence will support a case before a federal court. When a senior DOJ prosecutor gives the FBI information, it comes with the DOJ’s implied endorsement of the evidence. This kind of implied endorsement may have played a role in the FBI’s decision to pay Steele to continue research on the Trump dossier.

Ohr sponsored Steele’s research in spite of the fact that, as Steele later admitted, critical allegations in the dossier remain unverified. In particular, Steele now refuses to stand by his allegations of Russian hacking. Steele reportedly said his dossier allegations were never supposed to be made public, which is incongruous with his dissemination of the allegations to Ohr and his decision to leak word of the investigation to the press.

Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson disclosed in a sworn declaration that Fusion GPS paid Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, a Russia expert, to help research and analyze potential opposition research on Trump.

Curiously, it appears Ohr’s relationship with both Simpson and Steele predated his wife’s work for Fusion GPS, which raises the question whether Simpson may have hired her to gain favor with him. We don’t know how long Nellie Ohr worked for Fusion GPS, but Simpson’s December 2017 declaration indicates bank records from August 2015 through that time reflected she contracted with the firm to help research Trump. Ohr’s promotion of his wife’s research to the FBI potentially helped stoke continued demand for her services.

As pointed out by The Daily Caller, Ohr failed to disclose that his wife was being paid by Fusion GPS in his mandatory public financial disclosure form. The purpose of the form is to “identify potential or actual conflicts of interest.” Thus, The Daily Caller posits that when Ohr became involved in brokering his wife’s Trump-Russia research to the FBI, he deprived DOJ of the opportunity to identify this potential conflict of interest by failing to disclose the source of her “consulting” income. The DOJ had a legal right to know that Ohr’s wife was personally profiting from the research he promoted to the FBI.

One question that remains unanswered is whether Ohr also had a role in approving or overseeing the Trump-Russia investigation from within the DOJ. As noted by The Daily Mail, he “worked closely” with both Sally Yates, former assistant attorney general, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Also of note is that both Yates and Rosenstein signed off on one or more of the spy warrants for Trump associate Carter Page. If either Yates or Rosenstein consulted Ohr on the propriety of those applications, Ohr would have been in a position to endorse the validity of research for which his spouse was paid.

Violation of the law prohibiting public officials from involving themselves in matters in which their spouse has a financial interest (18 U.S.C. §208) is a crime punishable for up to five years in prison, if the conduct is deemed willful. The DOJ has the power to enforce this law civilly and criminally, and as Ohr’s employer, has a responsibility to do so if he violated it. So the DOJ’s perceived inaction in response to Ohr’s actions may set a government-wide precedent.

Steele openly sought to use the dossier to interfere with the election. Ohr promoted his work in spite of the fact that Steele made no secret to Ohr that he was desperate to stop Trump from becoming president. And he acted on it. Solomon reports, based on notes he reviewed of Ohr’s meeting with Steele: “‘Glen asked Chris to speak to the Mother Jones reporter. It was Glen’s Hail Mary attempt,’ Ohr wrote.”

In December 2016, Ohr received a memory stick with early versions of the dossier allegations. But why would he continue to receive Fusion GPS dirt even after the election? Perhaps because the campaign to stop Trump didn’t end after the election.

That December, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta supported calls to brief members of the Electoral College on the investigations into Trump’s Russia ties and into Russian meddling in the election. He openly advocated nullifying the election result by using the requested briefing to persuade members of the Electoral College to break with their voters.

The description of the requested briefing clearly matched the same “intelligence” that the Clinton campaign procured and Nellie Ohr helped Fusion GPS produce. Ohr may have conferred undeserved legitimacy on the “intelligence” when he promoted it to the FBI. This raises the question of whether his actions also constitute an attempt to “use his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election,” in violation of another law.

Russian interference in an American election is obviously a serious concern. But public officials here in the United States are in an even greater position to use their power to tilt and influence future American elections. Ohr’s wife was indirectly hired by the Clinton campaign to help defeat Trump. Ohr seems to have used his position in the DOJ to help his wife further this contractual objective.

If we allow the government to pick its own leaders by interfering in elections, our democracy will quickly become a sham. That’s why Congress passed the law in the first place. Has the DOJ done enough to reassure Americans that officials within the DOJ will not interfere with future elections?

The DOJ might not have known the extent of Ohr’s involvement in 2016. But it certainly knows now. And government officials are undoubtedly watching how Ohr’s case plays out. Unfortunately, his continued presence in the DOJ sends them a powerful message about the relatively low risk of following his example.

Adam Mill works in Kansas City, Missouri as an attorney specializing in labor and employment and public administration law. He frequently posts to millstreetgazette.blogspot.com. Adam graduated from the University of Kansas and has been admitted to practice in Kansas and Missouri.

Rhetorically speaking, what really happened to America under the 0bama administration? The place is a cesspool of liars under the Trump administration.

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#1. To: buckeroo (#0)

Ohr’s promotion of his wife’s research to the FBI

Ohr promoted Steele's dossier to the FBI. Nowhere is it claimed that his wife had anything to do with the dossier specifically.

misterwhite  posted on  2018-08-19   9:23:10 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#2. To: misterwhite (#1) (Edited)

You actually believe your own post? Man, you are a fool.

From the Wall Street Journal:

What Was Bruce Ohr Doing? Justice releases some damning documents, but much of the truth is still classified.

By Kimberley A. Strassel Aug. 16, 2018 7:34 p.m. ET The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department have continued to insist they did nothing wrong in their Trump-Russia investigation. This week should finally bring an end to that claim, given the clear evidence of malfeasance via the use of Bruce Ohr.

Mr. Ohr was until last year associate deputy attorney general. He began feeding information to the FBI from dossier author Christopher Steele in late 2016—after the FBI had terminated Mr. Steele as a confidential informant for violating the bureau’s rules. He also collected dirt from Glenn Simpson, cofounder of Fusion GPS, the opposition-research firm that worked for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and employed Mr. Steele. Altogether, the FBI pumped Mr. Ohr for information at least a dozen times, debriefs that remain in classified 302 forms.

All the while, Mr. Ohr failed to disclose on financial forms that his wife, Nellie, worked alongside Mr. Steele in 2016, getting paid by Mr. Simpson for anti-Trump research. The Justice Department has now turned over Ohr documents to Congress that show how deeply tied up he was with the Clinton crew—with dozens of emails, calls, meetings and notes that describe his interactions and what he collected.

Mr. Ohr’s conduct is itself deeply troubling. He was acting as a witness (via FBI interviews) in a case being overseen by a Justice Department in which he held a very senior position. He appears to have concealed this role from at least some superiors, since Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testified that he’d been unaware of Mr. Ohr’s intermediary status.

Lawyers meanwhile note that it is a crime for a federal official to participate in any government matter in which he has a financial interest. Fusion’s bank records presumably show Nellie Ohr, and by extension her husband, benefiting from the Trump opposition research that Mr. Ohr continued to pass to the FBI. The Justice Department declined to comment.

But for all Mr. Ohr’s misdeeds, the worse misconduct is by the FBI and Justice Department. It’s bad enough that the bureau relied on a dossier crafted by a man in the employ of the rival presidential campaign. Bad enough that it never informed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of that dossier’s provenance. And bad enough that the FBI didn’t fire Mr. Steele as a confidential human source in September 2016 when it should have been obvious he was leaking FBI details to the press to harm Donald Trump’s electoral chances. It terminated him only when it was absolutely forced to, after Mr. Steele gave an on-the-record interview on Oct. 31, 2016.

But now we discover the FBI continued to go to this discredited informant in its investigation after the firing—by funneling his information via a Justice Department cutout. The FBI has an entire manual governing the use of confidential sources, with elaborate rules on validations, standards and documentation. Mr. Steele failed these standards. The FBI then evaded its own program to get at his info anyway.

And it did so even though we have evidence that lead FBI investigators may have suspected Mr. Ohr was a problem. An Oct. 7, 2016, text message from now-fired FBI agent Peter Strzok to his colleague Lisa Page reads: “Jesus. More BO leaks in the NYT,” which could be a reference to Mr. Ohr.

The FBI may also have been obtaining, via Mr. Ohr, information that came from a man the FBI had never even vetted as a source—Mr. Simpson. Mr. Steele had at least worked with the FBI before; Mr. Simpson was a paid political operative. And the Ohr notes raise further doubts about Mr. Simpson’s forthrightness. In House testimony in November 2017, Mr. Simpson said only that he reached out to Mr. Ohr after the election, and at Mr. Steele’s suggestion. But Mr. Ohr’s inbox shows an email from Mr. Simpson dated Aug. 22, 2016 that reads, in full: “Can u ring.”

The Justice Department hasn’t tried to justify any of this; in fact, last year it quietly demoted Mr. Ohr. In what smells of a further admission of impropriety, it didn’t initially turn over the Ohr documents; Congress had to fight to get them.

But it raises at least two further crucial questions. First, who authorized or knew about this improper procedure? Mr. Strzok seems to be in the thick of it, having admitted to Congress interactions with Mr. Ohr at the end of 2016. While Mr. Rosenstein disclaims knowledge, Mr. Ohr’s direct supervisor at the time was the previous deputy attorney general, Sally Yates. Who else in former FBI Director Jim Comey’s inner circle and at the Obama Justice Department nodded at the FBI’s back-door interaction with a sacked source and a Clinton operative?

Second, did the FBI continue to submit Steele- or Simpson-sourced information to the FISA court? Having informed the court in later applications that it had fired Mr. Steele, the FBI would have had no business continuing to use any Steele information laundered through an intermediary.

We could have these answers pronto; they rest in part in those Ohr 302 forms. And so once again: a call for President Trump to declassify.

Write to kim@wsj.com.

buckeroo  posted on  2018-08-19   10:49:47 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#3. To: buckeroo (#2)

You actually believe your own post? Man, you are a fool.

Then why didn't the author say that Ohr's wife was an active participant, nay the main contributor, to the Steele dossier?

I mean, that's the whole point of the article, right -- that Bruce Ohr 'personally and substantially' participated in the Trump dossier in which his spouse had a 'financial interest'?

Yet ... nothing. His wife "worked for" Fusion GPS. Oooooh. She did some Trump opposition research. Maybe. That's it.

These conspiracy theories are a waste of my time.

misterwhite  posted on  2018-08-19   11:00:14 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#4. To: misterwhite (#3)


buckeroo  posted on  2018-08-19   11:26:43 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#5. To: misterwhite (#1)

Ohr promoted Steele's dossier to the FBI. Nowhere is it claimed that his wife had anything to do with the dossier specifically.


This is a TWO-FER.

Both Hubby and Wife qualify for Sing-Sing.

Liberator  posted on  2018-08-19   11:48:21 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#6. To: misterwhite (#3)

His wife "worked for" Fusion GPS. Oooooh. She did some Trump opposition research. Maybe. That's it.

That's far too much of a coincidence to assume she wasn't an active co-conspirator.
Fusion GPS isn't General Motors; everyone there probably has their mitts in most company matters, especially someone Russia-focused and closely connected to a high-ranking Feeb parasite.

Hank Rearden  posted on  2018-08-20   11:27:06 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#7. To: Hank Rearden (#6)

That's far too much of a coincidence to assume she wasn't an active co-conspirator.

She worked there. Nowhere does it say that she worked on the Trump dossier. There is no connection. There is no conspiracy. There is no crime.

I'm getting tired of articles like these, filled with speculation and innuendo, getting people to think "Hoo boy! Now we got them!" and then everything fizzles to nothing.

Oh well. On to the next conspiracy theory.

misterwhite  posted on  2018-08-20   13:32:32 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

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