Ohr Repeatedly Thanked Steele for ‘Updates’ and Assures Steele he will ‘Pass this [Information] along to my Colleagues’
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it received 339 pages of heavily redacted records from the U.S. Department of Justice which reveal that former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr remained in regular contact with former British spy and Fusion GPS contractor Christopher Steele after Steele was terminated by the FBI in November 2016 for revealing to the media his position as an FBI confidential informant.
The records show that Ohr served as a go-between for Steele by passing along information to “his colleagues” on matters relating to Steele’s activities. Ohr also set up meetings with Steele, regularly talked to him on the telephone and provided him assistance in dealing with situations Steele was confronting with the media.
Judicial Watch obtained the records through a March 2018 Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed after the Justice Department failed to respond a December 2017 request Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-00490)). The lawsuit seeks:
- All records of contact or communication, including but not limited to emails, text messages, and instant chats between Bruce Ohr and any of the following individuals/entities: former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele; owner of Fusion GPS Glenn Simpson; and any other employees or representatives of Fusion GPS.
- All travel requests, authorizations and expense reports for Bruce Ohr.
- All calendar entries for Bruce Ohr.
The timeframe for the requested records is January 1, 2015, to December 7, 2017.
The emails between Bruce Ohr and Steele were heavily redacted, including some of the dates they were sent and received.
Steele: Dear Bruce,
Just to let you know I shall be in DC at short notice on business from this PM till Saturday eve, staying at the Mayflower Hotel. If you are in town it would be good to meet up, perhaps for breakfast tomorrow morn? Happy to see Nellie too if she’s up for it. Please let me know. Best, Chris
Ohr: Dear Chris –
Nice to hear from you! Nellie and I would be up for breakfast tomorrow and can come into town. What would be a good time for you? Bruce
Steele: Thanks Bruce.
On me at the Mayflower Hotel, Conn Ave NW at 0900 should work but I’ll confirm the time for definite this eve if I may. Looking forward to seeing you. Chris
Ohr: Sounds good, but we won’t let you pay for breakfast! I’ll wait for your confirmation on time. Bruce
Steele: Let’s do 0900 then. See you in the lobby. Chris
Ohr: Very good. See you at 900.
On Saturday, July 30, 2016, Steele sends his thanks to Bruce Ohr for the meeting, “Great to see you and Nellie this morning:”
Ohr: Great to see you and Nellie this morning Bruce. Let’s keep in touch on the substantive issues/s. Glenn [Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson] is happy to speak to you on this if it would help. Best, Chris
On Friday, September 16, 2016, Steele and Ohr begin planning a meeting in the Capital Hilton:
Steele: Dear Bruce,
I hope you are well. I am probably going to visit Washington again in the next couple of weeks on business of mutual interest. I would like to see you again in person and therefore to coordinate diaries. So when are you planning to be in town please? Thanks and Best, Chris
P.S. I don’t think I have up to date cell or landline phone numbers for you. Grateful if you could send met them.
Ohr: Hi Chris –
It would be great to see you I DC. I’ll be out of town Sept 19-21 but should be here the rest of the time. My numbers are office 202 307 2510 and cell [Redacted] Let me know what works best for you.
Steele: Dear Bruce,
I have now arrived in DC and am staying at the Capital Hilton, 1101 16th Street NW. I don’t know my client-related programme yet but am keen to meet up with you. Might we provisionally say breakfast on Friday morn or even tomorrow morn if necessary? Look forward to hearing back from you. Best, Chris
Ohr: Hi Chris
Would tomorrow for breakfast still work for you? My calendar is pretty good tomorrow morning, not so good on Friday. An early breakfast Friday, say 8 am?, would work too. Should I come to your hotel? Bruce
Steele: Thanks Bruce.
0800 on Friday would still be better for me, at the hotel. More useful to all I think, after my scheduled meetings tomorrow. Thanks, Chris
Ohr: Chris –
Perfect. I’ll see you Friday at your hotel at 8 am. Bruce
Bruce Ohr’s December 8, 2016, phone log shows he called Simpson for a meeting “tomorrow at 3.”
Bruce Ohr’s December 13, 2016, phone log shows he spoke with Glenn Simpson the day before and received “some more news.” The log also lists “Rod Rosenstein 5:48 pm.”
An exchange beginning December 11, 2016, between Bruce Ohr and Simpson shows them discussing a Daily Beast and a Think Progress article and setting up a phone call between them.
The documents obtained by Judicial Watch show a string of encrypted text messages from January to November 2017, well after the FBI had terminated Steele, discussing a possible new point of contact should Ohr leave the FBI; a series of appointments for phone calls; and assurance that Ohr shared information with his “colleagues”:
On January 31, 2017, messages are exchanged between Bruce Ohr and Steele regarding fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates:
Steele: B, doubtless a sad and crazy day for you re-SY [Sally Yates]. Just wanted to check you are OK, still in situ and able to help locally as discussed, along with your Bureau colleagues, with our guy if the need arises? Many Thanks and Best as Always, C
Ohr: Bruce: Yes, a crazy day. I’m still here and able to help as discussed. I’ll let you know if that Changes. Thanks!
Steele: Thanks. You have my sympathy and support. If you end up out though, I really need another (Bureau?) contact point/number who is briefed. We can’t allow our guy to be forced to go back home. It would be disastrous all round, though his position right now looks stable. A million thanks. C
Ohr: Bruce: Understood. I can certainly give you an FBI contact if it becomes necessary.
On March 6, 2017, Senator Grassley wrote a letter to former FBI Director Comey regarding payments to Steele.
On March 7, 2017, messages are exchanged between Steel and Bruce Ohr about the Grassley letter:
Steele: Would it be possible to speak later today please? We’re very concerned by the Grassley letter and it’s possible implications for our operations and our sources. We need some reassurance. Many thanks
Ohr: Bruce: Sure Would 1:30 today, DC time, work?
Steele: Yes thanks it would…. I know you’ll appreciate why we are concerned.
Ohr: Bruce: Of course.
Ohr: Bruce: My Skype app is acting up. Can we use the Whatapp [sic] voice call?
Ohr: Bruce: I think my skype is working now if you want to call me.
Steele: Thanks for that, old friend. Please do fight our cause and keep in touch. Really fundamental issues at stake here. Very Best
Ohr: Bruce: Likewise, hang in there!
An exchange beginning on March 18, 2017, tells of apprehension regarding Comey’s scheduled March 20, 2017, testimony before Congress and hopes that “important firewalls will hold”:
Steele: Hi! Just wondering if you had any news? Obviously we’re a bit apprehensive given Comey’s scheduled appearance at Congress on Monday. Hoping that important firewalls will hold. Many thanks,
Ohr: Bruce: Sorry, no new news. I believe my earlier information is still accurate. I will let you know immediately if there is any change.
Beginning on March 24, 2017, following Comey’s testimony, Ohr and Steele discuss “our response:”
Steele: Hi Bruce, … we understand an approach from the Senate Intelligence Committee to us is imminent. I would like to discuss this and our response with you in the next couple of days if possible. Please let me know when might suit? Many thanks and Best, Chris
Ohr: We can chat this weekend if you are available. Would sometime on Sunday work for you? I’m pretty open.
Steele: Thanks Bruce. Let’s speak on Sunday eve UK time, maybe 1400 or 1500 EST if that works for you? Best
Ohr: Bruce: 1400 east coast time on Sunday will work. Thanks and talk with you then.
On March 30, 2017, Steele writes to Bruce Ohr about concerns with Senate Intelligence Committee leaks:
Steele: Hi Bruce, any news? The Senate Intel Committee is leaking like a sieve [Redacted] Hopefully speak soon. Best, Chris
Ohr: Chris, no news on this end, aside from what I’m reading in the papers. Just amazing. [Redacted] Let me know if you would like to talk.
In May several messages are exchanged regarding scheduling calls ending on May 15, 2017, with Bruce Ohr confirming that he spoke with the FBI and will update Steele:
Ohr: Bruce: thanks again. I chatted with my colleagues and can give you an update when you have a minute.
On July 16, 2017, Steele askes Bruce Ohr to pass on information, and Ohr agrees:
Steele: Hi Bruce, hope you’re enjoying the summer. [Redacted] Please pass this on as appropriate. Crazy week over there just past! Best, Chris
Ohr: Bruce: Hi Chris, it’s good to hear from you. Hope all is well. I will pass this along to my colleagues. Thanks!
On October 26, 2017, Steele says he’s “very concerned” about documents the FBI intends to turn over to Congress “about my work and relationship with them:”
Steele: Hi Bruce. Can we have a word tomorrow please? Just seen a story in the media about the Bureau handing over docs to Congress about my work and relationship with them. Very concerned about this. Peoples live may be engangered [sic]. [Redacted] Thanks, Chris
On October 30, 2017, Steele writes that he spoke to Simpson about information discussed with Bruce Ohr:
Steele: Bruce, having spoken with Glenn [Simpson] in London today, I now understand and appreciate what you were talking about on Saturday. Love and Best Wishes to you, Nellie and all the family.
On November 18, 2017, Steele and Ohr plan to discuss “difficulties and uncertainty” via Whatsapp:
Steele: Dear Bruce, I hope you and the family are well. It’s been another tough week here under the media spotlight and with legal pressures bearing down on us. I am presuming [redacted]. Also, we remain in the dark as to what has been briefed to Congress about us, our assets and previous work. I know you understand the importance of all this and have done your very best to support us, but we would be grateful if you could continue to [Redacted]. Sincere thanks for everything you are doing and I hope to speak to you again soon. Best, Chris
Ohr: Chris, thanks for reaching out. I understand the difficulties and uncertainty you are experiencing. I [redacted]. Let’s plan to talk early in the week – Bruce
Steele: Hi Bruce, is there any chance we could have a catch-up Whatsapp call this eve GMT, maybe around 1500 with you? Otherwise tomorrow eve GMT? Many thanks, Chris
Ohr: Bruce: Chris – I have a meeting ending at 1500 today that might spill over a few minutes. Would 1515 work for you?
Steele: Yes, of course. C
Ohr: Bruce: I will call you then.
The documents also show that Nellie Ohr sent numerous emails and reports to Bruce Ohr and other Justice Department officials on Russia issues.
“These smoking gun documents show that Christopher Steele, a Hillary Clinton operative and anti-Trump foreign national, secretly worked hand-in-glove with the Justice Department on its illicit targeting of President Trump,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “These documents leave no doubt that for more than a year after the FBI fired Christopher Steele for leaking, and for some 10 months after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, Bruce Ohr continued to act as a go-between for Steele with the FBI and Justice Department. The anti-Trump Russia investigation, now run by Robert Mueller, has been thoroughly compromised by this insider corruption.”
Judicial Watch earlier released 412 pages of documents about FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) warrants targeting Carter Page, who had been a Trump campaign adviser, which seem to confirm the FBI and DOJ misled the courts in withholding the material information that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC were behind the “intelligence” used to persuade the courts to approve the FISA warrants that targeted the Trump team.
Judicial Watch uncovered that the Justice Department (DOJ) admitted in a court filing that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held no hearings on the FISA spy warrant applications targeting Carter Page, a former Trump campaign part-time advisor who was the subject of four controversial FISA warrants.
Judicial Watch also uncovered documents showing that Steele was cut off as a “Confidential Human Source” (CHS) 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 document that he was admonished for unknown reasons in February 2016.