Judicial Watch: Bruce Ohr Email Raises Possible Ethics Concerns Tied to Russia Testimony
APRIL 29, 2019
Fusion GPS Employee Nellie Ohr’s Emails Reveal Close Working Relationship with DOJ Russia Experts
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it received 33 pages of records from the Department of Justice showing that former senior DOJ official Bruce Ohr in his January 2018 preparation to testify to the Senate and House intelligence committees wrote to a lawyer about “possible ethics concerns.” Bruce Ohr forwarded the email to his wife Nellie Ohr, who had been hired by Fusion GPS, the Hillary Clinton campaign-Democratic National Committee vendor who compiled the anti-Trump Dossier.
Judicial Watch obtained the records through its August 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the Justice Department after it failed to respond to a May 29, 2018, FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-01854)). Judicial Watch seeks:
All records from the Office of the Deputy Attorney General relating to Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr and/or British national Christopher Steele, including but not limited to all records of communications about and with Fusion GPS officials, Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele.
All records from the office of former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce G. Ohr relating to Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr and/or British national Christopher Steele, including but not limited to all records of communications (including those of former Associate Deputy Attorney General Ohr) about and with Fusion GPS officials, Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele.
All records from the office of the Director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force relating to Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr and/or British national Christopher Steele, including but not limited to all records of communications (including those of former Organized Crime Task Force Director Bruce Ohr) about and with Fusion GPS officials, Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele.
On January 3, 2018, Bruce Ohr emails Justice Department ethics lawyer Cynthia Shaw, advising her that the Senate and House intelligence committees had requested to interview him about investigations into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. He notes that a number of press reports had come out about his “alleged” connections to Christopher Steele. He asks her a question that is largely redacted but seeks information about “possible ethics concerns.” He forwards this email to his wife Nellie:
Thank you for taking the time to chat with me this morning. As requested, here is a short description of my question:
As you may have heard, the Senate intelligence committee and House intelligence committee requested to interview me in connection with their investigations of possible Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Shortly after receiving the Senate request, a series of stories broke in the press about my alleged connections to Chris Steele, the author of the so-called Trump dossier. [Redacted]
My question has to do with [redacted]. Are there any guidelines for [redacted] in order to satisfy any possible ethics concerns?
Shaw’s response is largely redacted:
Can you obtain [redacted]
The new documents also reveal a close relationship between Fusion GPS employee Nellie Ohr and DOJ Russia experts Lisa Holtyn, Joseph Wheatley and Ivana Nizich.
On May 11, 2016, Nellie Ohr received an email invitation to attend a Hudson Institute “Kleptocracy Archive Launch.” Notably, Fusion GPS principal Glenn Simpson, listed as “a Senior Fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center” who “now works frequently on Russian corporate crime and criminal organizations,” was to be a panelist. Nellie forwarded the invitation on to top Bruce Ohr aide Lisa Holtyn and husband/wife DOJ lawyers Joseph Wheatley and Ivana Nizich. Holtyn, Wheatley, and Nizich all worked for the DOJ’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), which investigated Russian cartels and other Russian syndicated crime matters.
On April 29, 2016, Holtyn, who worked in the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section, Criminal Division of the Justice Department, emails an unidentified individual in the Criminal Investigative Division of the FBI:
I asked Bruce and he didn’t know him, but is going to see if Nellie does.
I was wondering if maybe we knew him through some sort of Glenn Simpson or John Picarelli-sponsored event. If he hadn’t referred to you as [redacted] it wouldn’t have bothered me so much, but knowledge of that particular nickname implies a certain degree of familiarity not available on the Internet. [John Picarelli] is current Acting Deputy Director of the Department of Homeland Security and then-Justice Department Program Manager for Transnational Issues.]
The unidentified FBI employee emails Holtyn back: “It does. I’m baffled.”
An April 25, 2016, email shows Nellie Ohr inviting Lisa Holtyn to another Hudson Institute Russia talk.
An email on the following day shows Nellie Ohr declining an invitation by Holtyn to go to a film.
A March 28, 2016, email with the subject line “email intro” shows Holtyn introducing Nellie Ohr to a husband/wife pair of prosecutors at the Department of Justice in the Criminal Division (“CRM”) named Joe Wheatley and Ivana Nizich.
Judicial Watch previously released other DOJ documents that detail numerous contacts with Russiagate figure Christopher Steele and many other communications between Nellie Ohr and Ohr’s DOJ colleagues.
“Bruce Ohr was the conflicted center of the Clinton-DNC effort to launder fraudulent Russia material into the Justice Department and FBI,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “These documents show that Bruce Ohr was aware enough to look for advice – or look for cover – on ethics issue. His wife, Fusion GPS employee Nellie Ohr, had chummy relationships with various Justice Department officials, which illustrates perfectly why it was so easy for Fusion GPS to sell its anti-Trump Dossier scam.”