Politics

Ratcliffe Says Ohr Hearing Confirmed His Fears on FBI Scandal

Texas Republican told reporters his concerns were validated by what he heard behind closed doors

Image Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) said former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr’s testimony Tuesday in a closed-door hearing confirmed what he and many of his House Republican colleagues feared.

“We asked a lot of questions that we’ve had which confirmed a lot of fears we’ve had. There are inconsistencies between a number of witnesses that have previously given sworn testimony, and we’ll certainly be exploring those as they become apparent,” Ratcliffe told reporters outside the hearing room during a break.

“It absolutely confirms some of the concerns that I have that there were potential violations of the FISA process based on Mr. Ohr’s testimony today,” he said. “The concerns that I have were not elevated — they were, in fact, either confirmed or not. So we’ll explore that.”

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Ohr (pictured above center) was a key link behind the scenes between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and top Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI officials in providing an opposition research dossier the bureau used to persuade a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to approve spying on Carter Page. Page was a minor foreign-policy adviser for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

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“There are obviously more people we need to talk to,” Ratcliffe said. “A lot of the testimony we just received today from Bruce Ohr raises serious questions about the truthfulness of some of the testimony we’ve received from other witnesses already.”

“And we’ve identified some additional testimonies that we have not yet received from some additional people who were involved in some of the central issues,” he added.

Ratcliffe declined to provide additional details because much of the information presented at the hearing is confidential. But he did note that more people were named and contradictions in previous testimonies were raised.

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Ohr’s testimony was before a joint hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.).

Former British spy Christopher Steele compiled the dossier, which was paid for indirectly by Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which she controlled as the party’s presidential nominee. Steele was retained to compile the dossier by the Fusion GPS opposition research firm, which was in turn paid by the Perkins Coie law firm, which specializes in representing Democratic candidates and committees.

The two House panels are investigating decisions the DOJ and FBI made during their probes of Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct official government business while serving as secretary of state, and allegations of collusion between Trump campaign aides and Russian interests during the 2016 election.

Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked on the dossier with Steele at Fusion GPS. The dossier was based largely on sensational but unverified information obtained through Russian interests. Steele is well connected with individuals linked to Russian intelligence.

Related: Meadows Says Ohr Should Be Fired Unless He Was Taking Orders

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said earlier in the day that there is a compelling case that the DOJ and FBI knew there was no collusion prior to opening up the FISA applications. He said the information comes from a number of credible witnesses.

Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page gave testimonies that were cited as contradicting what Ohr said. Page was involved in the probe until she was exposed for having exchanged thousands of virulently anti-Trump text messages with former FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, with whom she was romantically involved. Strzok was at the center of both investigations.

“It became very clear that there are a number of factual conflicts,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) told reporters, according to the Washington Examiner. “Either Bruce Ohr’s lying or Glenn Simpson’s lying.”

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