Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said Wednesday that Bruce Ohr, a senior Justice Department official under scrutiny due to his unusual role in the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign, still works at the Justice Department.
Asked by Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) if Ohr still worked at the DOJ, Horowitz responded, “My understanding is he is.”
Horowitz on Monday released a report that confirmed that Ohr, unbeknownst to his superiors at the DOJ, acted as a go-between for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and ex-British spy Christopher Steele, author of the “pee dossier,” after the FBI fired Steele as a source.
The report said Ohr had known Steele since at least 2007, and the two began discussing information Steele collected on the Trump campaign beginning in July 2016. After the FBI fired Steele as a source in October 2016, due to his sharing the information with the media, Ohr continued to consult with him.
According to the report, Ohr and Steele met at least 13 times after Steele was fired. After each conversation, Ohr would be interviewed by the FBI, so that he could pass on Steele’s information to the FBI. The FBI was aware and approved of the arrangement, but the DOJ — who would later receive and review Steele’s information — was not aware of the arrangement.
The DOJ was also unaware that Ohr’s wife’s had worked as a researcher for Fusion GPS, the same firm that Steele was working for and that was paid by the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Horowitz’s report said:
We did not identify a specific Department policy prohibiting Ohr from meeting with Steele, Simpson, or the State Department and providing the information he learned from those meetings to the FBI. However, Ohr was clearly cognizant of his responsibility to inform his supervisors of these interactions, and acknowledged to the OIG that the possibility that he would have been told by his supervisors to stop having such contact may have factored into his decision not to tell them about it.
We concluded that Ohr committed consequential errors in judgment by (1) failing to advise his direct supervisors or the [Deputy Attorney General] that he was communicating with Steele and [Fusion GPS founder Glenn] Simpson and then requesting meetings with the FBI’s Deputy Director and Crossfire Hurricane team on matters that were outside of his areas of responsibility, and (2) making himself a witness in the investigation by meeting with Steele and providing Steele’s information to the FBI.
The report said Ohr’s not telling his superiors of his role led to the late discovery that Steele had told Ohr that Steele was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being the U.S. President.”
Although Ohr had told the FBI this information, the FBI did not pass it on to the DOJ or the court granting surveillance warrants on Carter Page until a year after a fourth and final surveillance warrant was issued.
Horowitz’s report recommended that the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility should “review our findings related to the conduct of Department attorney Bruce Ohr for any action it deems appropriate.”
It added: “Ohr’s current supervisors in [CRM] should also review our findings related to Ohr’s performance for any action they deem appropriate.”
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