Department of Justice (DOJ) officials must speed up the production of key communications with Fusion GPS employee Nellie Ohr, the wife of DOJ official Bruce Ohr, as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request into the infamous Trump-Russia dossier, Judicial Watch announced Thursday.
“We are pleased another court rejected the Justice Department’s inexcusable stonewalling on documents of intense public interest — Obama DOJ collusion with the Clinton campaign vendor Fusion GPS to target then-candidate Donald Trump,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement.
“How extraordinary it is that this Justice Department is now under court order to stop stalling on releasing records about potential corruption in the Obama Justice Department!” Fitton added.
Fusion GPS found itself at the center of controversy when it came to light that 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) used the organization to fund former British spy Christopher Steele’s dossier alleging collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.
The FBI also used Steele’s dossier to renew Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in 2016.
Fusion GPS and its work with Steele and the DOJ became a focal point of Trump’s claims of bias within the DOJ and FBI against himself before and during special counsel Robert Mueller’s “Russian witch hunt.”
Bruce Ohr was demoted from his position as associate deputy attorney general after his undisclosed meetings with Steele and Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson came to light in December 2017.
U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton ordered the DOJ to respond swiftly to Judicial Watch’s March 2018 lawsuit building upon its unfulfilled December 2017 FOIA request. Judicial Watch sought “all records of contact or communication, including but not limited to emails, text messages, and instant chats, between DOJ officials in the attorney general’s office and Fusion GPS employee or contractor Nellie Ohr.”
The DOJ now must turn over the documents “on a rolling basis over the next two months” instead of in six months’ time as the DOJ initially sought, Judicial Watch noted.
Walton rebuked the DOJ for slow-walking the document request fulfillment during a June 14 hearing, saying “more should have been done by now” and the DOJ “should gear up to deal with those requests” appropriately.
“So I’m not real sympathetic to the position that you have limited staff and therefore, you can’t comply with these requests,” Walton said, according to Judicial Watch.