Republican Congress members who questioned Bruce Ohr behind closed doors Tuesday learned the former top Justice Department official had regular contact in 2016 with Andrew Weissmann – who is now Robert Mueller’s top deputy – regarding the dubious, anti-Trump dossier of unverified claims that became a major premise for launching the special counsel investigation.
Citing a source close to the matter, the Fox News Channel’s Catherine Herridge said Weissmann was kept “in the loop” on the dossier while he was chief of the criminal fraud division.
“This is a dramatic and stunning development that should effectively end Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation,” said Gregg Jarrett, an attorney, Fox News legal analyst and author of the New York Times bestselling “The Russia Hoax: The Illicit Scheme to Clear Hillary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump.”
“And in fact he should immediately fire Andrew Weissman and terminate his special counsel probe,” Jarrett said in a segment Thursday night on the Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” show.
Jarrett summarized why he believes the Weissman connection is significant.
The dossier, he said, “was the main part of the Russia hoax, and Andrew Weissman was in on the hoax.”
Sources familiar with Ohr’s testimony Tuesday before the House Judiciary and House Oversight Committees told the Daily Caller News Foundation that along with Weissman, Ohr kept in the loop former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former lead FBI investigator Peter Strzok and former bureau lawyer Lisa Page regarding his interactions with Steele and Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson.
Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm, was paid more than $1 million through the law firm of the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign to produce the dossier, which was based mostly on unnamed Russian sources.
Weissmann’s contact with Ohr about the dossier is significant because of the mutual interest that Weissmann and Simpson had in former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, the Daily Caller noted.
Weissmann, a Hillary Clinton donor who attended her 2016 election-night party in New York City, is the lead prosecutor in two cases against Manafort.
Already, it’s been reported Ohr testified that the FBI was aware when it submitted the dossier as evidence to obtain a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign that Steele was biased against Trump and that Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for the company that produced it.
That information, however, was withheld from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court, which granted warrants to conduct surveillance on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page.
Weissman’s 9-0 Supreme Court rebuke
Weissman was famously rebuked in 2005 by the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned 9-0 his convictions in the cases against legacy accounting firm Arthur Andersen, which was destroyed by the prosecution, and Merrill Lynch. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later dismissed all the fraud convictions against four Merrill Lynch managers who had served a year in prison.
A critic of Weissman’s prosecution as deputy and later director of the Enron Task Force concluded, “People went off to prison for a completely phantom of a case.”
Houston lawyer Tom Kirkendall, who represented an Enron executive, told the Washington Times that Weissmann “seemed more interested in obtaining convictions than in promoting justice.”
Defense attorneys asserted, the Times reported, that Weissmann bent or broke the rules, pointing to appeals court decisions, exhibits and witness statements.
They charged he intimidated witnesses by threatening indictments and created crimes that did not exist. In one case, they said, he withheld evidence that could have aided the accused.
The Times noted one instance in which an incredulous district court judge told an Enron defendant he was pleading guilty to a wire fraud crime that did not exist.
‘Willing and constant conduit’
Republican House members who questioned Ohr, including Reps. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Jim Jordan of Ohio and Darrell Issa of California, said that after the FBI terminated its relationship with Steele in November 2016 for leaking to the media, the bureau privately used Ohr as a backchannel to reengage contact with Steele and continue receiving the former British spy’s information.
“This was after suggesting to the American public they had cut Steele off,” Meadows said in a tweet.
Now-fired FBI agent Strzok confirmed during recent congressional testimony that the FBI received “documents and material” from Ohr, a former associate deputy attorney general.
WND reported earlier this month that newly obtained emails, texts and handwritten notes of Ohr confirmed the connection to Steele, who told Ohr of his fear that they would be “exposed” because of the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Issa said in an interview Wednesday with Fox News that he and his colleagues confirmed Tuesday that Ohr was “a willing and constant conduit between Fusion GPS, paid for by the Clinton campaign, and the FBI.”
Noting Ohr is an attorney, Issa said that under cross-examination he conducted along with Jordan and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., the Justice Department official was asked if he had ever in his career made himself a “fact witness,” essentially creating a conflict by being a conduit of information in a case.
Ohr replied that prior to the dossier matter, he had not.
“He knew he was delivering not hearsay, but double hearsay that would never stand up in court, and he admitted that, that he was providing as fact that which turns out to be fiction,” Issa told Fox News.
Jordan, in a Fox News interview, provided more perspective on Ohr’s testimony, calling it “the biggest abuse of power” he had ever seen.
“Go back to the fundamentals. Bruce Ohr, a top Justice Department official, his wife worked for the firm hired by the Clintons to produce the dossier. The dossier that we all know is the foundation of this whole thing which was disproven, salacious, unverified, not credible. That dossier Fusion is giving to Nellie Ohr, to Bruce Ohr who is giving it to the FBI. We know all that, and the FBI took it to the court. Didn’t tell the court who paid for it. Didn’t tell the court the guy who wrote it, Christopher Steele had been terminated,” Jordan said.
The congressman said it “now it appears [the FBI] knew about Bruce Ohr, Nellie Ohr’s involvement and didn’t tell the court that either.”
“They did all of that for what purpose? To spy on the other party’s campaign,” Jordan said.
“That is never supposed to happen in the United States of America and yet it did. This is the biggest abuse of power I have ever seen. And I am going to keep digging at it and so are my colleagues until we get answers for the American people.”
‘Someone is lying’
WND reported Tuesday Republican congressmen who questioned Ohr found his testimony conflicted with the declarations of other key figures, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson.
“In the first hour of testimony it became very clear that there are a number of factual conflicts,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., told reporters Tuesday during a break in the closed-door session with Ohr.
“Either Bruce Ohr is lying or Glenn Simpson is lying.”
The congressman added that “in another circumstance, either Bruce Ohr is lying or Lisa Page is lying.”
Page infamously exchanged anti-Trump text messages with lead FBI investigator Peter Strzok while they were carrying on an adulterous relationship. While working on the Hillary Clinton classified-information probe and later the Russia investigation, Strzok confided to Page his intent to “stop” Trump from becoming president and to deploy an “insurance policy” as a backup plan.
Fired FBI Director James Comey described claims in the dossier as “unverified and salacious.” And last week, longtime Clinton lawyer Lanny Davis rebutted a key claim in the dossier, contending his new client, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, was never in Prague. The dossier makes Cohen and his Prague visit central to its contention that there was “clandestine” conspiracy of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
The House members are considering bringing back Ohr, Page and Simpson in an open hearing to sort out the apparent conflicts, reported the Fox News Channel’s Herridge.
Earlier Tuesday, Meadows said he’s seen “hard evidence” that the FBI leaked information to media to justify the FISA warrants to spy on the Trump campaign.