Federal prosecutors Sam Buell, far left, and Andrew Weissmann, center, smile as they talk with reporters outside the Federal Courthouse after winning their case against Arthur Andersen in Houston Saturday, June 15, 2002. A jury on Saturday convicted Arthur Andersen of shredding Enron-related documents, dealing the company a huge blow and giving a first victory to prosecutors investigating Enron’s collapse. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
The most revealing information gleaned from the transcripts of DOJ official Bruce Ohr’s testimony before Congress last year was how clear he claimed to be about the origins of the Steele dossier. From his briefing to then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and then-FBI lawyer Lisa Page on July 30, 2016 through his appearance before the joint House Judiciary and Oversight Committees, he said he has emphasized the questionable origins of the dossier. He has told all who have been briefed that the document was opposition research compiled by a man who harbored intense hatred for Trump and wanted “desperately” to prevent him from winning the election. He said that none of the allegations had been verified. He also made it clear that it was paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC, which Clinton essentially controlled.
Andrew Weissman, often referred to as Mueller’s “pit-bull,” has been the lead investigator on the highly partisan special counsel team. He is known for doing “whatever it takes to win.” He recently announced he would be stepping down from both the special counsel and the DOJ.
Ohr briefed both Weissman and DOJ prosecutor Zainab Ahmad, who is also a member of Mueller’s team, in the summer of 2016, and “warned them that the anti-Trump dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele was not properly vetted.”
Investigative Reporter Sara Carter reported that on March 1, 2019, Reps. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) sent a letter, which can be viewed here, to new Attorney General William Barr requesting documents and communications about “actions taken or not taken by Weissmann and Ahmad after they met with Ohr.” Meadows and Jordan also included “multiple detailed questions” regarding Weismann and Ahmad that they would like written answers to and requested a response by March 15th at 5pm.
The letter stated:
This development (that they were briefed and warned by Ohr) raises questions about the impartiality and independence of Weissmann and Ahmad as senior members of the Special Counsel investigation. We write to determine what steps both Weissmann and Ahmad took to apprise Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and the Justice Department of their contacts with Ohr and the substance of those meetings before their assignment to the Special Counsel’s office.
Under normal circumstances, concerns that Trump may have colluded with Russia to win the presidency, would have been investigated by the DOJ. But Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein chose instead to appoint a special counsel. He did so, he said, “to ensure impartiality and independence of those charged with the investigation.”
The special counsel shall be a lawyer with a reputation for integrity and impartial decision making, and with appropriate experience to ensure both that the investigation will be conducted ably, expeditiously and thoroughly, and that investigative and prosecutorial decisions will be supported by an informed understanding of the criminal law and Department of Justice policies.
Ohr’s testimony indicated that Weissman and Ahmad had been made aware of the exact nature of the dossier. This raises the question of how having that knowledge affected their ability to serve on the special counsel team. Did they discuss it with Robert Mueller before he tapped them for the team? Meadows and Jordan would like answers to the following questions.
- Identify all actions taken by Weissmann and Ahmad, including disclosures, to apprise the Department or the Special Counsel’s Office of their role in the events Bruce Ohr testified to about supplying the FBI with information relating to the Trump campaign;
- Explain all actions taken by Weissmann and Ahmad after learning Steele, Simpson, and Nellie Ohr were providing Bruce Ohr information for the purpose of relaying it to the FBI;
- Provide all documents and communications referring or relating to disclosures made by Weissmann and Ahmad as part of their appointments to the Special Counsel’s Office;
- Provide all documents and communications related to the process that the Department used to evaluate prosecutors’ and investigators’ independence to serve the Special Counsel’s Office
The Mueller report has been expected “any day now” for the last month. There is no indication that investigators have uncovered any evidence that Trump colluded with Russians. Instead, many allegations made in the dossier have been debunked.
Republicans are well aware that the entire charge of Russian collusion from the early days of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation, including their FISA Court applications, have been an attempt to destroy Trump. Still, it will be interesting to watch Deep State actors as they try to cover their tracks.
Fun fact: A source has told NPR that upon departing his position with the DOJ, Weissman “will study and teach at New York University and work on a variety of public service projects, including his longstanding interest in preventing wrongful convictions by shoring up forensic science standards used in courts.” Given his reputation for wrongful convictions, that’s kind of ironic.