sunny.png
Monday November 23rd, 2020 11:19AM

Who is Bruce Ohr? Justice official has attracted GOP ire

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bruce Ohr was a relatively anonymous lawyer at the Justice Department for more than 25 years. But he's now caught up in a Republican maelstrom of criticism toward the department, with some of President Donald Trump's allies implying that he helped conspire against Trump's election.

Two GOP-led House committees will interview Ohr behind closed doors Tuesday as part of an investigation into decisions made by the department in 2016. They are interested in Ohr — he has also been the subject of Trump's angry tweets — because of his relationship with Christopher Steele, the former British spy whose opposition research on Trump's Russia ties was compiled into a dossier and turned over to the FBI.

A look at Bruce Ohr and why Republicans want to talk to him:

A SEASONED OFFICIAL

A Harvard-educated lawyer who was a federal prosecutor in Manhattan in the 1990s, Ohr later oversaw the Justice Department's organized crime and racketeering section and, at the time of the presidential election, was a high-ranking official in the deputy attorney general's office with oversight of a program that doles out grants to federal prosecutors for complex drug trafficking cases.

Colleagues and associates describe Ohr as a mild-mannered, affable, steady presence in a department where turnover and transition are common.

"I definitely remember him to be a sort of quiet, soft-spoken, very warm and humble kind of a guy," said Evan Barr, who overlapped with him in the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York. "He was widely respected in the office."

___

RELATIONSHIP WITH A FORMER SPY

It's Ohr's relationship with Steele that has given fodder to Republican critics in Congress and raised concerns that he was operating outside his job description.

The two had met a decade earlier, bonding over a mutual interest in Russian organized crime and forging a friendly relationship that persisted over the years.

Though Ohr did not handle national security or counterintelligence work in the deputy attorney general's office, he nonetheless became a point of contact for Steele to share information with in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election as the ex-spy dug into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The two were in touch throughout that time period and Ohr passed along tidbits he learned to the FBI, which was conducting its own investigation.

The co-founder of Fusion GPS, the political research firm that paid Steele for the investigation, told House lawmakers in a closed-door meeting last year that he also met with Ohr at Steele's behest amid what he said was anxiety that federal investigators were not taking seriously enough the threat of Russian election interference and the information that Steele had accumulated.

"We were, frankly, you know, very scared for the country and for ourselves and felt that if we could give it to someone else, we should, higher up," said Glenn Simpson, who helped start the firm.

"And so Chris suggested I give some information to Bruce, give him the background to all this. And we eventually met at a coffee shop, and I told him the story," he added.

Aside from their own personal connection, Ohr's wife, Nellie, was working at Fusion GPS — a connection Trump and his allies have seized on as they allege anti-Trump bias in the department.

___

THE BEGINNING OF AN INVESTIGATION

Peter Strzok, the recently fired FBI agent who led the Russia investigation, told Congress last month that Ohr provided the FBI with "material that I believe originated from Mr. Steele," though he said Ohr was not the original source of information on the dossier. Strzok said he met with Ohr as many as five times in late 2016 and early 2017.

The dossier also was not the linchpin of the FBI's investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. That investigation had begun months before the bureau received those files in September 2016, and was triggered by information about George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign aide who told a professor that the Russians possessed "dirt" on Clinton in the form of emails.

Nevertheless, Republicans have suggested the dossier created a politically tainted pretext for the investigation. Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a Republican who has led criticism of the Justice Department and the FBI, called Strzok's revelation in the hearing "amazing."

"So Nellie Ohr works for Fusion, works for Glenn Simpson and she's giving documents," Jordan said.

Democrats have criticized the Republican's focus on Ohr as overblown and misleading.

"Bruce Ohr took the initiative to inform the FBI of what he knew, and the majority does him a grave disservice by suggesting he is part of some malign conspiracy," wrote Democrats on the House intelligence committee in a declassified memo earlier this year.

__

A TRANSFER AMID PRESIDENTIAL CRITICISM

Ohr remains with the Justice Department, but amid the GOP criticism and a change in leadership, he was reassigned from his job in the deputy attorney general's position and given new responsibilities. But there are no signs of any effort or desire by department leadership to punish him in the ways advocated by the president.

Trump has kept the pressure on Ohr — and his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions — on Twitter.

"Will Bruce Ohr, whose family received big money for helping to create the phony, dirty and discredited Dossier, ever be fired from the Jeff Sessions "Justice" Department? A total joke!" Trump tweeted Aug. 20.

Trump has also suggested revoking Ohr's security clearance, along with others in the department who were related to the Russia investigation.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Presidential Election News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judges: Congress map still unlawful with partisan bias
Federal judges have affirmed their earlier decision striking North Carolina's congressional districts as unconstitutional because Republicans drew them with excessive partisanship
1:59AM ( 8 minutes ago )
Who is Bruce Ohr? Justice official has attracted GOP ire
Once a relatively anonymous lawyer at the Justice Department, Bruce Ohr is now the subject of GOP criticism
1:48AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Salah's tweet shows dispute with Egypt soccer not over
Mohamed Salah revives months-long dispute with soccer authorities in native Egypt, accuses them of ignoring his complaints about unauthorized use of his image
1:36AM ( 31 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Support builds for plan to rename Senate building for McCain
Renaming the Russell Senate Office building after McCain appears to be gaining bipartisan support, but success is far from assured
12:36AM ( 1 hour ago )
McCain had a 'wicked' wit that he often aimed at himself
McCain's "wicked" wit was often aimed at himself during his long Washington career
12:33AM ( 1 hour ago )
McCain's death shadows Republican primary in Arizona
Death of Sen. John McCain is shadowing Tuesday's primary contests in Arizona
12:25AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Judge rules Nevada pimp can reopen brothel near Las Vegas
A judge has ruled that Nevada's most famous legal pimp can re-open his brothel near Las Vegas Tuesday
7:41PM ( 6 hours ago )
The Latest: Trump says 'we appreciate everything' McCain did
President Donald Trump has broken his silence on John McCain, saying he appreciates everything the late senator has done for the country
7:16PM ( 6 hours ago )
McCain's final statement: Americans have 'more in common'
Sen. John McCain expressed his deep gratitude and love of country in his final letter and implored Americans to put aside "tribal rivalries" and focus on what unites
6:13PM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Cohen's lawyer walks back claim Trump knew of Russia meeting
Lawyer walks back assertions that Cohen could tell special prosecutor Trump had prior knowledge of meeting with a Russian lawyer to get dirt on Hillary Clinton
1:47PM ( 12 hours ago )
Ugandan pop star, government critic Bobi Wine free on bail
Ugandan pop star and member of parliament Bobi Wine has been freed on bail
12:49PM ( 13 hours ago )
A life of courage, politics came down to 1 vote for McCain
A lifetime of courage, contradictions and contrarianism for John McCain came down to vote, in the middle of the night, in the twilight of his career
7:05AM ( 19 hours ago )
AP Elections
A subdued Zimbabwe inaugurates Mnangagwa again after vote
A subdued Zimbabwe inaugurates Mnangagwa again after bitterly disputed election
6:49AM ( 1 day ago )
A subdued Zimbabwe set for Mnangagwa's inauguration, again
A subdued Zimbabwe readies for Mnangagwa's inauguration after bitterly disputed election
4:53AM ( 1 day ago )
War hero and presidential candidate John McCain dies at 81
War hero and presidential candidate John McCain dies at 81
12:32AM ( 2 days ago )
General Presidential Election News
Judges: Congress map still unlawful with partisan bias
Federal judges have affirmed their earlier decision striking North Carolina's congressional districts as unconstitutional because Republicans drew them with excessive partisanship
1:59AM ( 10 minutes ago )
Salah's tweet shows dispute with Egypt soccer not over
Mohamed Salah revives months-long dispute with soccer authorities in native Egypt, accuses them of ignoring his complaints about unauthorized use of his image
1:36AM ( 33 minutes ago )
Shooting suspect was twice hospitalized for mental illness
Divorce filings from the parents of the suspect in a deadly shooting at a Florida video game tournament say that as an adolescent he was twice hospitalized in psychiatric facilities
1:31AM ( 38 minutes ago )
California wine country fires leave homeowners struggling
Homeowners in Northern California wine country are still reeling after last year's most destructive set of blazes in state history. Many have found themselves underinsured, which has delayed claims settlements and construction.
1:30AM ( 39 minutes ago )
Japanese man on way home after release from NKorean custody
A Japanese man who was detained in North Korea after being accused of a crime has arrived in Beijing on his way home
1:29AM ( 40 minutes ago )