Was Justice Department official Bruce Ohr rewarded for the role he played in enabling the Obama administration to spy on the 2016 Trump campaign?
That’s among the questions raised by government watchdog Judicial Watch after it obtained evidence that Ohr was given a $28,000 bonus at the time the spying was under way.
“These documents will raise questions as to whether the conflicted Bruce Ohr, who the FBI used to launder information from Christopher Steele, was rewarded for his role in the illicit targeting of President Trump,” said Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch.
Ohr served as a liaison between former British spy Christopher Steele, the author of the anti-Trump dossier commissioned by Fusion GPS, where Ohr’s wife worked, and the DOJ.
The watchdog group on Friday released a series of documents obtained from the Justice Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
They show the removal of Ohr from the position of associate attorney general in 2017, his transfer from Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force to International Affairs in 2018 and a total of $42,520 in performance bonuses he received during the Trump/Russia investigation.
Ohr was given $28,000 in November 2016, when the spying was going on, nearly double the $14,520 he received a year earlier, the documents show.
On Nov. 13, 2016, Judicial Watch said, Ohr was the performance bonus “during the time of his deep involvement in the highly controversial Justice Department surveillance of the Trump presidential campaign.”
Judicial Watch pointed out that Ohr was married to Nellie Ohr of Fusion GPS, the political research firm commissioned by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to create the anti-Trump dossier. The Justice Department and the FBI later used the dossier as primary evidence to obtain the warrants needed to spy on the Trump campaign. The dossier then helped trigger Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe, which concluded the Trump campaign did not collude with Russia and found insufficient evidence of obstruction of justice.
The documents show Bruce Ohr “was removed because of his conflict of interest and role as conduit for Fusion GPS material,” Judicial Watch said.
“The documents show that Ohr was removed from his position as Associate Deputy Attorney General on December 6, 2017. On January 7, 2018, Ohr was reassigned from his position of director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and shifted to Counselor for International Affairs in the Department of Justice Criminal Division. Ohr received a $2,600 pay increase.”
Judicial Watch has five pending lawsuits regarding information about Ohr alone, the organization said.
One previous case resulted in obtaining information from the DOJ “showing a conversation between former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Kathleen Kavalec [and] Bruce Ohr, discussing the targeting of Donald Trump with Steele dossier material.”
“In discussing a meeting with the potential source for a Mother Jones article accusing the Trump campaign of taking money from a Russian-American oil magnate, as well as Christopher Steele’s connection to that source, Kavalec emails Ohr citing the accusatory Mother Jones article. Ohr says, ‘I really hope we can get something going here.'”
Judicial Watch also uncovered an electronic communication from Nellie Ohr informing her husband she was busy deleting emails sent from his DOJ account.
And the records Judicial Watch has obtained reveal Ohr “remained in regular contact with former British spy and Fusion GPS contractor Christopher Steele after Steele was terminated by the FBI in November 2016 for revealing to the media his position as an FBI confidential informant.”
“The records show that Ohr served as a go-between for Steele by passing along information to ‘his colleagues’ on matters relating to Steele’s activities. Ohr also set up meetings with Steele, regularly talked to him on the telephone and provided him assistance in dealing with situations Steele was confronting with the media,” Judicial Watch said.
The DOJ has yet to comply with Judicial Watch’s request for communications between Ohr and former FBI agent Peter Strzok, who famously carried on a conversation with an FBI lawyer about how they would stop Trump from being president and deploy a “back-up plan” if Trump were elected.
Previously obtained mails revealed that Ohr was concerned about “ethics issues” before he testified to Congress.
At that time, Fitton explained: “Bruce Ohr was the conflicted center of the Clinton-DNC effort to launder fraudulent Russia material into the Justice Department and FBI. These documents show that Bruce Ohr was aware enough to look for advice – or look for cover – on ethics issue.”