DOJ officials did not want Bruce Ohr to interact with the White House, according to a testimony



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Ohr was demoted in December 2017 due to his position as Assistant Deputy Attorney General, in part because he did not inform the department early enough of his contacts with Steele, a former British intelligence chief. . But Ohr told Congress that the following month, another title had been taken away, at the head of a working group on organized crime of the Ministry of Justice, for a different reason, from the Attorney General's at the time, Jeff Sessions, and Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein: The White House.

"It was said at the time that the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General did not want me to communicate directly with the White House," Ohr told Oversight Committees and the Judiciary from the room.

Ohr, who provoked President Donald Trump's ire for his role as intermediary between the FBI and Steele, was one of the many officials in the Justice Department and the FBI that the committees questioned the Last year as part of the investigation conducted by the Republican on the FBI and the MJ processing investigations on Hillary Clinton, Trump and Russia.

The representative of Georgia, Doug Collins, the most Republican of the Judiciary Committee, released the testimony of Mr. Ohr in August 2018. He made the transcript public without consulting the Chairman of the Democratic Committee and without taking into account the redactions proposed by the Ministry of Justice.

Most of Ohr's testimonies have already been reported and his role in the investigation of Russia is well known: Ohr met with the founders of Steele and Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson, and forwarded information to FBI, who was investigating the contacts of the Trump campaign with The Russians. Ohr's wife has also worked for Fusion GPS as a contractor doing research on Russia.

Last year, Trump repeatedly attacked Ohr on Twitter and wondered why he was still employed by the Department of Justice.

"Is it really possible that Bruce Ohr, whose wife Nellie was paid by Simpson and GPS Fusion for the work done on Fake Dossier, and who was used as a pawn in all this scam (WITCH HUNT), is working still for the Justice Department ????? " Trump tweeted in October.

The 236-page transcript provided more details on the testimony and role of Ohr in the FBI's investigation of Russia.

Among the details previously reported in Ohr's testimony, there had been the revelation of his meeting with Steele during a breakfast with his wife in July 2016, at about the same time as the FBI opened his counterintelligence investigation.

At breakfast, as previously reported by CNN and confirmed by the transcript, Ohr told Steele that the former head of Russian foreign intelligence believed Trump was "on a barrel".

Ohr provided the FBI with a notepad containing information from Steele and Simpson, as well as his wife's, but he did not look at it either.

"I do not plug any key (memory) that anyone gives me, even my wife, to a work computer," he said.

Transcription of the GOP-led probe

In December, the Republicans in charge of the FBI investigation and the Justice Department announced in December that they planned to make public all their transcripts of interviews, after giving the agencies the opportunity to consult them for classified or unwanted information.

But Republicans have become frustrated with the pace of these exams. Collins said Friday that the redactions proposed by the GM "have nothing to do with national security and are anathema to our goal of government transparency," and so he was publishing the transcript in its entirety.

The Georgia Republican told the press that he would eventually publish transcripts of other panel interviews, such as those of former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page – who both worked on Trump and Clinton investigations and traded anti-Trump SMS – he had no schedule for these outings.

"People are anticipating the Mueller report soon, will there be so-called collusion, or was it the only collusion among the agency staff that hated the president and opened the investigation?" Collins said Friday.

Democrats said the Republicans were trying to use the transcripts of the previous congress as a means of diverting attention from the new Democratic inquiry into the president.

"All of this is a totally out of place distraction from the massive corruption that reigns in the Trump administration and the White House," said Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat who participated in most interviews at closed session last year. "And so, they post graffiti with all these frasks."

Ohr explains Steele's interactions

In their testimony, the Republicans asked Ohr to explain why Steele and Simpson, who were paid by the law firm representing the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, had used it to provide their information to the FBI rather than going straight to it.

Ohr told the committees that he had known Steele for almost ten years and that he had also forwarded information previously. He said that he did not know for sure why they had come to see him, but that he felt that he was in the position to give it to the FBI.

"Part of my job, as I saw it, as organized crime in the department, was to try to gather as much information as possible or to present to the FBI the possible sources of information. Information, whatever the means of advancing the program. " purpose, "said Ohr.

Republicans accused the FBI of hiding the political origins of the opposition's search file when it had been used to obtain a foreign surveillance warrant against former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page. .

Ohr testified that he had informed the FBI that Steele was being paid by a political source. "I did not know that they were employed by the DNC, but I certainly said, yes, that they were working for – you know, they were working in one way or the other way. another as part of the Clinton campaign, "said Ohr.

Republicans also drew the attention of Ohr's testimony to the fact that Steele had a political bias. Ohr told the committees that he "really had the impression (Steele) that he did not want Donald Trump to win the elections", although he does not remember his own words. he said it directly.

But Ohr disputed the fact that he was a "relay" of Steele for the FBI, who had stopped talking to him in October 2016 for his contacts with the media. Ohr said that the office had provided him with a "main point of contact", an agent named Joe Pientka, in case he had something to report.

"I do not know exactly what the FBI thought," he said. "They just told me that if I received information, there would be an agent I could talk to."

CNN's David Shortell and Marshall Cohen contributed to this report.

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