Reported by Luke Rosiak | Investigative Reporter | 8:31 PM 02/04/2018
- Key DoJ official’s wife gathered opposition research on Donald Trump for Fusion GPS
- Nellie Ohr was on Fusion GPS staff
- Her husband, Bruce Ohr works at the DoJ and presented that info to FBI officials
Under a contract from the Clinton campaign, the Fusion GPS research firm was paying the wife of a senior Department of Justice official as part of its efforts to gather opposition research on Trump, and the same official then brought that research to the FBI.
Knowledge of the relationship has raised questions about the extent to which the firm may have paid for heightened access to the criminal justice system, and whether they would have hired Nellie Ohr absent her spousal connection to the DoJ.
A declassified memo said Bruce “Ohr’s wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife’s opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS. The Ohrs’ relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the” court when it was used to obtain a surveillance warrant.
Bruce Ohr was deputy associate attorney general until December. House investigators determined that he met personally with Glenn Simpson, Fusion GPS’ founder.
The FBI has limited resources to deal with a firehose of information, so people seeking the FBI’s attention could potentially benefit from greasing the wheels in order to get info to the front of the queue and to a high level.
“The money sweetened the pot for the Ohrs, and it certainly made it easier for Fusion to get the dossier to be used before the court if they made that payment to Bruce Ohr’s wife,” former judge and Texas GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert told The Daily Caller News Foundation,
“Fusion had to have known that because of the relationship between Bruce Ohr and his wife, they were bringing Fusion, the DOJ and the DNC together under one roof to work for the same goal, which was to stop Donald Trump from becoming president,” he said.
Ohr’s wife, Nellie, is a Russia expert, but it is not known what her specific contribution to the dossier was.
“The financial arrangement between Mrs. Ohr and Fusion GPS gives the appearance of government-for-hire,” said Tom Anderson, an ethics expert at the conservative-leaning watchdog group the National Legal and Policy Center. It “appears to be a sophisticated scheme to get access to the highest levels of our government … ensuring the use of government resources in an attempt to influence an election.”
Parties seeking to hide ethically questionable payments often write the checks to a family member. Since spouses generally share assets, payments to one benefit the other, and paying the spouse can make the payments less obvious or harder to trace.
Nellie did not return a message left on a number listed as her home phone number asking what contribution she made to the dossier.
Getting information into the hands of law enforcement through the family member of an official could have potentially also limited the paper trail showing how it wound up in FBI hands, and fingerprints tying it back to Fusion GPS, the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Gohmert, who is a member of the House Committee on the Judiciary, said he believes that Ohr and other officials already harbored anti-Trump inclinations, but the money could have helped push him over the edge to take a leading role. “It was a way to reward people that thought like them. They enriched themselves and their friends.”
Voter registration data shows Nellie has been a registered Democrat in the past.