Judicial Watch: Federal Court Orders Hearing on August 21 for Lawsuit Seeking DOJ’s Fusion GPS Records
AUGUST 20, 2018
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced that a hearing will be held in federal court Tuesday, August 21, 2018, regarding communications of the Office of the Attorney General with Nellie Ohr, the wife of former Senior DOJ Official Bruce Ohr, who was critical to the Clinton/DNC dossier. The suit is before U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton.
Date: Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Location: Courtroom 16
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
333 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit on March 1, 2018, after the DOJ failed to respond to a December 12, 2017, FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No.1:18-cv-00491)). Judicial Watch is seeking:
- 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 time frame for the requested records is January 1, 2015, to the present.
On June 14, 2018, Judge Walton ordered the Justice Department, which had been resisting Judicial Watch’s FOIA request, to “immediately commence its search for responsive records and produce responsive records…”
Additionally, Judge Walton previously criticized the Justice Department, saying:
I think if it’s been almost, since December when the initial request was made more should have been done by now. And it seems to me if you have someone who’s going to come into office and they say they’re going to be a disrupter, that they should appreciate there’s going to be a lot of FOIA requests and therefore, should gear up to deal with those requests. So I’m not real sympathetic to the position that you have limited staff and therefore, you can’t comply with these requests. So I think you’re going to have to get some more people.
I mean FOIA is considered to be very important. I keep getting from the government, from various agencies we can’t do this, we can’t do that because we don’t have the resources. I’m not real sympathetic to that. FOIA is important. Open government is important, and government has to comply with FOIA in order to make it an open government.
In December 2017, Bruce Ohr was removed from his position as U.S. Associate Deputy Attorney General after it was revealed that he conducted undisclosed meetings with anti-Trump dossier author (British spy) Christopher Steel and Glenn Simpson, principal of Fusion GPS. A House Intelligence Committee memo released by Chairman Devin Nunes on February 2 noted that Ohr’s wife, Nellie, was “employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump” and that Bruce Ohr passed the results of that research, which was paid for by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign, to the FBI.
In a related case, Judicial Watch released FBI records showing that Steele was cut off as a “Confidential Human Source” after he disclosed his relationship with the FBI to a third party. The documents show at least 11 FBI payments to Steele in 2016 and that he was admonished for unknown reasons in February 2016.
Recently, Republican lawmakers indicated that Bruce Ohr is becoming more central to their investigation. And, emails and memos show that Bruce Ohr continued to receive information from Steele in 2017 after the FBI had terminated its relationship with Steele in 2016 for leaking to the media.
On August 14, the DOJ wrote a letter to Judicial Watch claiming that searches were conducted up through December 2017, and no responsive records were located. The DOJ also claims that it has experienced “technical issues which may have affected the searches.”
While at this time we have no indication that records responsive to your request will be located, we cannot provide you with a final response to your request until the technical issues are resolved. [Office of Information Policy] has been working closely with our electronic search support team to resolve these issues and to re-run searches as appropriate to ensure that no records were missed in the original searches. We anticipate issuing an additional response to you in one month.