by Chuck Ross
House Republicans are reportedly seeking documents from former Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr related to her research into President Donald Trump’s family, including his wife and children.
During a congressional interview Oct. 19, 2018, Ohr said while she worked for Fusion GPS, the firm behind the infamous Steele dossier, she compiled open-source research on the travels and business activities of Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Trump’s wife, Melania.
“I was asked to research Trump’s family broadly in connection with any — any Russian connections,” Ohr told a Republican staffer during her interview.
“Were you doing independent research based off of each family member?” the staffer asked.
“I did some,” said Ohr, a Russia linguist. “As I recall, I did some research on all of them, but not into much depth.”
Asked about her research into Trump Jr., Ohr said “I looked into some of his travels” in order to “see whether they were involved in dealings and transactions with people who had had suspicious pasts.”
House Republicans are requesting Ohr’s investigative files, according to Fox News, citing two sources familiar with the matter.
They want to know how the information on Trump’s family was used in the Fusion GPS investigation, and whether any was included in the infamous anti-Trump dossier authored by former British spy Christopher Steele, according to the report.
Republicans have long been interested in the role played by Ohr and her husband, Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, in the initial stages of the Russia probe. They have questioned whether Fusion GPS hired Nellie Ohr in order to have greater access to her husband, as well as why the firm sought to establish contact with Bruce Ohr.
Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson met with the DOJ official Aug. 22, 2016. But during a Nov. 14, 2017, interview with the House Intelligence Committee, Simpson denied meeting with anyone from the FBI or Justice Department prior to the 2016 election. Simpson also did not disclose in that interview that Nellie Ohr worked for his firm.
The Ohrs met together with Steele on July 30, 2016, in Washington, D.C. During the meeting, Steele provided details of his investigation into Trump and the Trump campaign. Bruce Ohr briefed then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on the meeting days later.
Bruce Ohr maintained contact with Steele throughout the campaign. He testified Aug. 28, 2018, that Steele said in the weeks before the election that he was desperate that Trump lose the election to Hillary Clinton.
Ohr eventually became the FBI’s unofficial back-channel to Steele, a former MI6 officer based in London. The FBI cut Steele off as a confidential source Nov. 1, 2016, after learning that the ex-spy had spoken with reporters about his work with the bureau. Steele and Fusion GPS executives met with numerous reporters in the weeks before the election.
After Trump’s election win, FBI agents working on the Russia investigation asked Bruce Ohr to reconnect with Steele and report back on any information he had picked up about Trump or his associates.
Steele and Ohr remained in contact throughout 2017.
The Justice Department’s inspector general is investigating the FBI and Justice Department’s relationship with Steele, and the agencies’ handing of the dossier.
The FBI relied heavily on Steele’s reporting to obtain wiretaps against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. But many of the claims about Steele have been all but debunked by the special counsel’s report.
Steele alleged in his dossier that Page and other Trump associates took part in a “well-developed conspiracy of co-operation” with Russians to influence the election. But the special counsel said it was unable to establish that a conspiracy occurred. The report also said investigators were unable to establish that any Trump associates acted as agents of Russia.
Ohr also testified that one of Fusion GPS’s sources was Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian lawmaker who was responsible for publicizing the so-called “black ledger” alleging that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort received secret cash payments from the Ukrainian government. A story published in August 2016 about the ledger led to Manafort’s resignation, though he has long claimed that the document is a forgery.
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Chuck Ross is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.