A conservative nonprofit government watchdog announced a pair of lawsuits Monday seeking records involving the mysterious relationship between a former top Department of Justice (DOJ) official and the opposition research firm behind the infamous dossier on President Donald Trump.
Judicial Watch filed the suits under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for records about former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr and his wife, Nellie Ohr, who worked for the firm Fusion GPS.
Ohr was demoted after revelations that he had undisclosed meetings with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who prepared the dossier of salacious but mostly unverified allegations against Trump during the 2016 campaign. Some questioned whether Ohr may even have violated the law by failing to disclose that his wife worked for the firm.
Then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe told Congress during closed-door testimony in December 2017 that the dossier formed the basis of an application to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to eavesdrop on Carter Page, a volunteer campaign foreign policy adviser for Trump.
The FBI had been spying on Page since 2013.
Lawyers for DOJ and the FBI failed to disclose to the court that Fusion GPS, which contracted with Steele (pictured above), had been paid for by 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, which was then controlled by her campaign.
That FISA warrant, which judges on the secret court renewed several times, eventually led to the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as independent counsel, overseeing the probe into allegations of Russian election meddling and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.
A memo prepared by Republican staffers on the House Permanent Selection Committee on Intelligence indicates that Bruce Ohr passed the results of Steele’s research to the FBI.
“Once again, the deep state Justice Department is covering up evident misconduct targeting President Trump,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “A top Justice Department official in the Obama administration had an obvious conflict of interest through his wife Nellie’s work with the Clinton/DNC vendor Fusion GPS on the anti-Trump dossier. The Justice Department needs to come clean about this scandal and turn over the documents as federal law requires.”
The lawsuits, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, come after DOJ failed to respond to two separate Judicial Watch FOIA requests in December. The Dec. 7, 2017, request asked for the following information:
- all records of emails, text messages, and instant chats or other communications between Bruce Ohr and Steele, Fusion GPS owner Glenn Simpson; and any other employees or representatives of the company
- travel requests, authorizations, and expense reports for Bruce Ohr
- all calendar entries for Bruce Ohr
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A Dec. 12, 2017, FOIA request about Nellie Ohr asked for all emails, text messages, and instant chats and other communications between her and DOJ officials in the attorney general’s office.
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