Weekly Update: New Fusion GPS Collusion Lawsuit
How Were Bruce and Nellie Ohr, Christopher Steele, and Fusion GPS Plotting?
Judicial Watch Battles in Court this Week for IRS Scandal Transparency
Dossier Author Steele Was Deemed ‘Not Suitable For Use’ as Source
Court Orders DOJ to Preserve Comey Personal Email
Recently, Republican lawmakers indicated that Bruce Ohr, the former Associate Deputy Attorney General, is becoming more central to their investigation of the soft coup against President Trump. Moreover, newly released emails and memos show that Ohr continued to receive information from former British spy Christopher Steele in 2017 after the FBI had supposedly terminated its relationship with Steele in 2016 for leaking to the media.
In fact, as I describe below, it was another Judicial Watch lawsuit that just uncovered FBI document showing that Steele was deemed unsuitable as a “Confidential Human Source” in November, 2016. But that was no impediment to Ohr’s continuing to use him nor the FBI continuing to receive “information” from Steele through Ohr! Talk about corruption!
So, we’re in the thick of it. We just filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice for all communications from the offices of the Deputy Attorney General and the office of the Director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force related to Bruce G. Ohr, his wife Nellie Ohr, Christopher Steele, and Fusion GPS (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-01854)).
Bruce Ohr remains Organized Crime Task Force Director. Until his dossier-related demotion, he was the fourth-ranked official at DOJ. The House Intelligence Committee memo released by Chairman Devin Nunes on February 2 says that Nellie Ohr was “employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump” and that Bruce Ohr passed along the results of that research, which was paid for by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign, to the FBI. The “salacious and unverified” dossier was used to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) surveillance warrant to spy on Carter Page.
We sued after the Justice Department failed to respond to our May 29, 2018, FOIA request for:
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.
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 Christopher Steel and Glenn Simpson, principal of Fusion GPS.
In March, we filed two lawsuits seeking records about the Ohrs’ involvement in the anti-Trump dossier. In June, the DOJ was ordered to begin searching and producing Fusion GPS records to Judicial Watch.
As this sordid scandal continues to unfold, it is increasingly clear that top DOJ official Bruce Ohr – working in conjunction with his wife and other Clinton-connected Fusion GPS actors – played a key role in laundering false information from Russia about Donald J. Trump. The DOJ must stop the stonewalling and release these documents, as the law requires.
Using the FBI and CIA to fight its political opponents in the 2016 election was not a first for the Obama administration. It had a practice run in 2012 when Obama’s IRS targeted conservative groups severely enough to have possibly changed the election’s outcome.
We’re still seeking the truth in this misuse of federal power. We have just been granted the right to file an amicus curiae brief asking the court to unseal the depositions of former IRS officials Lois Lerner and Holly Paz. Permission was granted by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (Western Division).
Lerner and Paz played key roles in the targeting of conservative nonprofit groups opposed to Obama policies. A federal judge sealed their depositions after they claimed they had received threats. We have argued that the testimony transcripts may shed light on government misconduct, and the shielding of internal government deliberations does not serve the public’s interest.
Lerner and Paz asked the court to deny our December 14, 2017, motion for leave to submit an amicus curiae brief. In January 2018, we filed a reply brief asking the court to accept our amicus curiae brief (NorCal Tea Party Patriots, et al. v. The Internal Revenue Service, et al. (No. 1:13-cv-00341)).
In our August 2018 brief, we point out that we have been at the forefront of the investigation into the IRS’s conduct:
Within days after the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (“TIGTA”) released its report on May 14, 2013 confirming that IRS employees targeted organizations applying for 501(c)(4) tax exempt status with conservative sounding names such as “patriot” and “Tea Party” in their titles, Judicial Watch led the charge and initiated an investigation into the IRS’s conduct toward such organizations. As part of its investigation, Judicial Watch submitted dozens of FOIA requests and since has filed at least nine FOIA lawsuits seeking relevant records from implicated federal agencies.
In addition to the revelation of IRS employees’ conduct in the emails uncovered, the records obtained by Judicial Watch also sparked investigations into Lois Lerner’s emails and the IRS’s failure to preserve thousands of emails that were potentially relevant to the various investigations headed by Judicial Watch and the U.S. Congress about the IRS’s treatment of conservative groups. While the federal government has now admitted that the targeting “was wrong” and “for such treatment, the IRS expresses its sincere apology,” the IRS continues to withhold email communications to or from Ms. Lerner and/or Ms. Paz….
Judicial Watch attorney Ramona Cotca made our case during a court hearing yesterday. The court heard all the arguments and will rule in the near future.
We played a central role in uncovering the IRS scandal, in which Lerner and Paz were primary actors. We uncovered 41,100 pages of records. Our work led to the discovery of IRS collusion with the Mueller-run FBI to plan prosecutions of the very groups the Obama IRS was persecuting. We also uncovered the revelation that thousands of Ms. Lerner’s emails were destroyed by the IRS while our lawsuits and other investigations were pending.
The Deep State learned a lesson in 2012: Use federal agencies to attack your political opposition, and nobody will stop you. No wonder the CIA and FBI proceeded against Donald Trump with abandon.
Judicial Watch continues to be the number one watchdog on the Deep State/Obama/Clinton collusion targeting President Trump.
The FBI recently turned over to us 70 pages of heavily redacted records about Christopher Steele, the former British spy hired with Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee funds. Steele authored the infamous dossier targeting President Trump during last year’s presidential campaign.
The documents show 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.
We forced out the documents thanks to our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice for records of communications and payments between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and his private firm, Orbis Business Intelligence (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-00916)).
The documents include a “source closing communication” that states that Steele (referred to as “CHS” or Confidential Human Source) “is being closed” because:
CHS confirmed to an outside third party that CHS has a confidential relationship with the FBI. CHS was used as a source for an online article. In the article, CHS revealed CHS’ relationship with the FBI as well as information that CHS obtained and provided to FBI. On November 1, 2016, CHS confirmed all of this to the handling agent. At that time, handling agent advised CHS that the nature of the relationship between the FBI and CHS would change completely and that it was unlikely that the FBI would continue a relationship with the CHS. Additionally, handling agent advised that CHS was not to operate to obtain any intelligence whatsoever on behalf of the FBI.
The documents also show that Steele was paid repeatedly by the FBI and was “admonished” for some unknown misconduct in February 2016. The documents include:
- Fifteen (15) FD-1023, Source Reports.
- Thirteen (13) FD-209a, Contact Reports.
- Eleven (11) FD-794b, Payment Requests. (It appears Steele was paid money eleven of the thirteen times he met with the FBI and gave them information.)
- An Electronic Communication (EC) documenting that on February 2, 2016, Steele was admonished in accordance with the Justice Department guidelines and the FBI CHS Policy Manual.
The documents were obtained as a result of a lawsuit filed after the Department of Justice failed to respond to a March 8, 2017, FOIA request seeking:
- All records of communications between any official, employee, or representative of the FBI and Mr. Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer and the owner of the private firm Orbis Business Intelligence.
- All records related to the proposed, planned, or actual payment of any funds to Mr. Steele and/or Orbis Business Intelligence.
- All records produced in preparation for, during, or pursuant to any meetings or telephonic conversations between any official, employee, or representative of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Mr. Christopher Steele and/or any employee or representative of Orbis Business Intelligence.
These newly released documents show the shady, cash-based relationship the Obama FBI had with Clinton operative Christopher Steele. The anti-Trump Russia “investigation” had Christopher Steele at its center, and his misconduct was no impediment to using information from his Russia intelligence collaborators to spy on the Trump team. The corruption and abuse is astonishing.
Last week, a separate Judicial Watch lawsuit uncovered the FISA warrant documents used to justify spying on Carter Page. The warrants are controversial because the FISA court was never told that the key information justifying the requests came from a “dossier” that was created by Fusion GPS, a paid agent of the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee. Fusion GPS hired Steele to create the dossier, and Steele is referenced repeatedly as “Source #1” in the warrants.
The initial Carter Page warrant was granted just weeks before the 2016 election. Steele and his “minimally corroborated” Clinton-DNC dossier was an essential part of the FBI and DOJ’s applications for surveillance warrants to spy on Page.
Last week, I reported to you that we asked the FBI to demand that James Comey preserve government records he may have taken with him when he left the FBI director’s office.
Now a federal court has ordered the Department of Justice to preserve federal records located in the personal email accounts of the fired FBI director. The Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF) and we had filed a motion asking the court to issue an order for preservation that was opposed by the Justice Department and FBI.
In the motion, we argued that, “There is reason to be concerned that the responsive records could be lost or destroyed.” We pointed out that in June 2018, the DOJ’s Inspector General stated, “We identified numerous instances in which Comey used a personal email account (a Gmail account) to conduct FBI business.” The Justice Department, in response to Judicial Watch’s concerns, said they sent Mr. Comey a letter asking him to preserve records but refused to make the letter available and opposed a preservation order.
In granting the motion for a preservation order, the court ruled:
[T]he Court will allow [the DOJ] until September 28, 2018 to complete its review and release of any responsive, non-exempt records to Plaintiffs. That being said, [the DOJ] is also ORDERED to make rolling productions between today and September 28, 2018, at reasonable intervals, of any records that are reviewed and found to be responsive and non-exempt.
In order to avoid any possible issues later in this litigation, the Court will GRANT [Judicial Watch’s] Motion. [The DOJ] is ORDERED to take all necessary and reasonable steps to ensure that any records that are potentially responsive to either of the Plaintiffs’ FOIA requests located on former Director Comey’s personal e-mail account are preserved. Although it contends that such an order is unnecessary, [the DOJ] has not explained why this preservation order would prejudice Defendant or cause any undue burden.
The court also explained that its order did necessarily mean the court believed that Mr. Comey either had government records or that they would be lost or destroyed.
The filing comes in an April 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit we filed after the DOJ failed to respond to our May 2018 request and DCNF’s February 2018 request (Judicial Watch and The Daily Caller News Foundation v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-00967)). The lawsuit is seeking:
- All records written or ordered written by Comey summarizing his conversations with any of the following individuals: Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Senator Chuck Schumer, Representative Nancy Pelosi, and Senator John McCain.
- All records that identify and describe all meetings between former FBI Director James Comey and President Barack Obama.
The FBI has been playing shell games with Comey’s records and other records, so we’re pleased the court issued this preservation order. This preservation order helps to ensure no Comey records are going to be lost or destroyed. We expect the DOJ to take immediate steps to make sure the records are preserved, as the court ordered.
Until next week …