mcloudyn.png
Saturday September 26th, 2020 10:51PM

AP sources: Former spy said Russia had 'Trump over a barrel'

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior Justice Department lawyer says a former British spy told him at a breakfast meeting two years ago that Russian intelligence believed it had Donald Trump "over a barrel," according to multiple people familiar with the encounter.

The lawyer, Bruce Ohr, also says he learned that a Trump campaign aide had met with higher-level Russian officials than the aide had acknowledged, the people said.

The previously unreported details of the July 30, 2016, breakfast with Christopher Steele, which Ohr described to lawmakers this week in a private interview, reveal an exchange of potentially explosive information about Trump between two men the president has relentlessly sought to discredit.

They add to the public understanding of those pivotal summer months as the FBI and intelligence community scrambled to untangle possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. And they reflect the concern of Steele, a longtime FBI informant whose Democratic-funded research into Trump ties to Russia was compiled into a dossier, that the Republican presidential candidate was possibly compromised and his urgent efforts to convey that anxiety to contacts at the FBI and Justice Department.

The people who discussed Ohr's interview were not authorized to publicly discuss details of the closed session and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Among the things Ohr said he learned from Steele during the breakfast was that an unnamed former Russian intelligence official had communicated that Russian intelligence believed "they had Trump over a barrel," according to people familiar with the meeting.

It was not clear from Ohr's interview whether Steele was directly told that or had picked that up through his contacts, but the broader sentiment is echoed in Steele's dossier.

Steele and Ohr, at the time of the election a senior official in the deputy attorney general's office, had first met a decade earlier and bonded over a shared interest in international organized crime. They met several times during the presidential campaign, a relationship that has exposed both men and federal law enforcement more generally to partisan criticism, including from Trump.

Republicans contend the FBI relied excessively on the dossier during its investigation and to obtain a secret wiretap application on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. They also say Ohr went outside his job description and chain of command by meeting with Steele, including after his termination as a FBI source, and then relaying information to the FBI.

Trump this month proposed stripping Ohr, who until this year had been largely anonymous during his decades-long Justice Department career, of his security clearance and has asked "how the hell" he remains employed. He has called the Russia investigation a "witch hunt" and denied any collusion between his campaign and Moscow.

The president and some of his supporters in Congress have also accused the FBI of launching the entire Russia counterintelligence investigation based on the dossier. But memos authored by Republicans and Democrats and declassified this year show the probe was triggered by information the U.S. government earlier received about the Russian contacts of then-Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos.

The FBI's investigation was already under way by the time it received Steele's dossier. The investigation's lead agent, Peter Strzok, told lawmakers last month that "it was not Mr. Ohr who provided the initial documents that I became aware of in mid-September."

Ohr described his relationship with Steele during a House interview Tuesday.

One of the meetings he recounted was a Washington breakfast attended by Steele, a Steele associate and Ohr. Ohr's wife, Nellie, who worked for Fusion GPS, the political research firm that hired Steele, attended at least part of it.

Beside the "over a barrel" remark, Ohr also told Congress that Steele told him that Page, a Trump campaign aide who traveled to Moscow that same month and whose ties to Russia attracted FBI scrutiny, had met with more-senior Russian officials than he had acknowledged.

The breakfast took place amid ongoing FBI concerns about Russian election interference and possible communication with Trump associates.

By that point, Russian hackers had penetrated Democratic email accounts, including that of the Clinton campaign chairman, and Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign associate, was said to have learned that Russians had "dirt" on Democrat Hillary Clinton in the form of emails, court papers say.

That revelation prompted the FBI to open the counterintelligence investigation on July 31, 2016, one day after the breakfast but based on entirely different information.

Ohr told lawmakers he could not vouch for the accuracy of Steele's information but has said he considered him a reliable FBI informant who delivered credible and actionable intelligence, including about corruption at FIFA, soccer's global governing body.

In the interview, Ohr acknowledged that he had not told superiors in his office, including Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, about his meetings with Steele because he considered the information inflammatory raw source material.

He also provided new details about the department's move to reassign him once his Steele ties were brought to light.

Ohr said he met in late 2017 with two senior Justice Department officials, Scott Schools and James Crowell, who told him they were unhappy he had not proactively disclosed his meetings with Steele. They said he was being stripped of his associate deputy attorney post as part of an internal reorganization that would have occurred anyway, people familiar with Ohr's account say.

He met again soon after with one of the officials, who told him Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein didn't believe he could remain in his current position as director of a law enforcement grant-distribution initiative known as the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces program because the position entailed White House meetings and interactions.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined comment.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Presidential Election News, AP Business, AP Elections - Campaigns, AP Business - Financial Markets
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
US ends funding of UN agency for Palestinian refugees
The United States is ending its decades of funding for the U.N. agency that helps Palestinian refugees
1:16AM ( 9 minutes ago )
AP sources: Former spy said Russia had 'Trump over a barrel'
Justice Department lawyer was told Russian intelligence believed it had Donald Trump "over a barrel" during the 2016 presidential campaign
1:14AM ( 12 minutes ago )
AP sources: Lawyer told Russia had 'Trump over a barrel'
Justice Department lawyer was told Russian intelligence believed it had Donald Trump "over a barrel" during the 2016 presidential campaign
12:54AM ( 32 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
AP sources: Lawyer was told Russia had 'Trump over a barrel'
Justice Department lawyer was told Russian intelligence believed it had Donald Trump "over a barrel" during the 2016 presidential campaign
12:17AM ( 1 hour ago )
DeVos: No plans to take action on funding to arm teachers
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says she has "no intention of taking any action" regarding any possible use of federal funds to arm teachers or provide them with firearms training
12:06AM ( 1 hour ago )
Both sides prepare for marathon confirmation hearing
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh isn't the only one engaging in practice sessions ahead of next week's grueling confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee
12:01AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: Thousands line up to pay tribute to McCain
Thousands of people lined up for blocks outside the U.S. Capitol to say goodbye to Senator John McCain
7:58PM ( 5 hours ago )
Arkansas governor's nephew leaves state Senate amid charges
A nephew of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has resigned from the state Senate after being charged with spending thousands of dollars in campaign funds on personal expenses
7:06PM ( 6 hours ago )
DeVos says she won't take action on funding to arm teachers
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says she has "no intention of taking any action" regarding any possible use of federal funds to arm teachers or provide them with firearms training
6:52PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Lula da Silva barred from running for Brazil's presidency
Brazil's electoral court has barred former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from the October presidential election despite easily leading in the polls
12:07AM ( 1 hour ago )
Brazil's Lula da Silva barred from running for presidency
A majority of justices on Brazil's electoral court has voted to bar ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from running in October's presidential election, virtually ending any chance that the front-runner will get on the ballot
11:20PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Court majority blocks ex-president in Brazil
A majority of justices on Brazil's electoral court have voted to bar ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from running in October's presidential election, virtually ending his candidacy
10:25PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Elections
At rally, Trump urges Indiana voters to unseat Sen. Donnelly
President Donald Trump has urged Indiana Republicans to unseat Sen. Joe Donnelly, saying the vulnerable Democrat is "not going to vote for us on anything."
12:19AM ( 1 day ago )
Trump stumps for Republican Senate hopeful Braun in Indiana
President Donald Trump is seeking to turn up the pressure on Sen. Joe Donnelly in Indiana, saying the state must defeat the vulnerable Democrat because "Joe's not going to vote for us on anything."
10:55PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Trump volunteer blocks photographer's rally shot
A volunteer member of the advance team for President Donald Trump has blocked a photojournalist's camera as he tried to take a photo of a protester during a campaign rally in Indiana
10:42PM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
Trump Foundation lawyer asks judge to dismiss lawsuit
Lawyers for President Donald Trump have asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought against his charitable foundation by New York's attorney general, arguing that it was politically motivated
12:38AM ( 1 day ago )
Trump teases about successor to White House counsel
President Donald Trump is teasing that he knows who will succeed White House counsel Don McGahn
12:49PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Firefighters salute, mourners hold McCain signs
Several firefighters are standing on top of a firetruck on an overpass above a Phoenix freeway saluting a motorcade with a hearse carrying Sen. John McCain's casket
12:31PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
US ends funding of UN agency for Palestinian refugees
The United States is ending its decades of funding for the U.N. agency that helps Palestinian refugees
1:16AM ( 9 minutes ago )
AP sources: Lawyer told Russia had 'Trump over a barrel'
Justice Department lawyer was told Russian intelligence believed it had Donald Trump "over a barrel" during the 2016 presidential campaign
12:54AM ( 32 minutes ago )
Trump says North Carolina redistricting ruling 'unfair'
President Donald Trump says the prospect of North Carolina drawing new districts weeks ahead of the November midterm election is "unfair."
12:49AM ( 37 minutes ago )
The Latest: del Potro through to fourth round at US Open
The Latest: 2009 champ del Potro through to fourth round at US Open
12:46AM ( 40 minutes ago )
Trump plans to help one-time rival Cruz in Texas campaign
President Donald Trump is coming to the aid of a one-time rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, suggesting that the Texas Republican is facing a tougher than expected re-election fight
12:44AM ( 41 minutes ago )