In late 2017, the Senate Intelligence Committee discovered that DOJ official Bruce Ohr had acted as a back channel between Christopher Steele, who had been paid by opposition research firm Fusion GPS, and the FBI. He had not informed his superiors that his wife, Nellie Ohr, was also working for Fusion GPS. They saw this as a conflict of interest. As a result, he received two demotions in late 2017. Prior to that time, Ohr had served as the Associate Deputy Attorney General, the fourth highest ranking position at the DOJ. Ohr also worked as the Director of Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces and lost that position as well.
In June 2018, then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was questioned about Ohr’s status while testifying before the House Intelligence Committee and answered:
Mr. Ohr is a career employee of the department. He was there when I arrived. To my knowledge, he wasn’t working on the Russia matter. When we learned of the relevant information, we arranged to transfer Mr. Ohr to a different office.
In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, watchdog group Judicial Watch learned this week that, after two demotions, Ohr “received a total of $42,520 in performance bonuses during the Trump/Russia investigation. Ohr’s bonus nearly doubled from $14,520 (received in November 2015) to $28,000 in November 2016.”
This boggles the mind.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said that the documents “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.” According to Judicial Watch:
The documents show that on November 13, 2016, Ohr was given a performance award of $28,000. This was during the time of his deep involvement in the highly controversial Justice Department surveillance of the Trump presidential campaign. The bonus was nearly double the $14,250 performance award he was given on November 29, 2015.
Ohr was removed from his Associate Deputy position due to conflict of interest because his wife, Nellie Ohr, was working exclusively for the founder of Fusion GPS Glenn Simpson on the Russia investigation. Nellie Ohr is a Russia expert, believed to speak Russian fluently and was also using her husband to pass information from Fusion GPS, as multiple emails obtained by Judicial Watch have shown.
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 (OCDETF) and shifted to Counselor for International Affairs in the Department of Justice Criminal Division. Ohr received a $2,600 pay increase.
Was this a situation where, because Ohr was caught in his role as a liaison between Steele and the FBI, DOJ officials had to create the appearance of punishing Ohr? Although they took away two of his titles, they didn’t reduce his salary. In fact, he received a $2,600 pay raise upon his second demotion. Then, he was even granted merit bonuses. What kind of punishment is that? If Ohr’s role had not been discovered by the Senate investigators, would he have lost his titles?
Judicial Watch has several FOIA requests outstanding which might shed some light on these questions.
As an employee of Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr worked on digging up dirt about the Trump family. She was also in touch with several of her husband’s colleagues at the DOJ with whom she shared her research from time to time. In an email from a recent batch of 339 pages, Nellie told her husband she was deleting all emails from his DOJ email account.
Over the last year or so, Judicial Watch has sued for and received a large number of documents about both Bruce Ohr and his wife, Nellie Ohr. This information, which contains links to specific documents can be found here.