Despite attempts by Democrats to almost immediately declare the House Intelligence Committee memo on possible abuse by the FBI and DOJ the work of Republicans who just wanted “to demolish the separation between politics and the fair administration of justice,” Rep. Trey Gowdy (primary author of the memo) has indicated the agency is not in the crosshairs — but roughly five agents definitely are.
“I have tremendous respect for the bureau, there are 30,000 employees, let’s assume that there are five that engaged in conduct that we have questions about,” Gowdy said on CBS’ “Face The Nation” Sunday.
He even goes on in the same interview to defend outgoing Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, whom he interviewed for the memo, calling him a “professional witness” while disagreeing with some of his decisions.
“I think we’ve got to get to some point in life where you can disagree with the decision-making process that someone engaged in without believing that they are corrupt or somehow part of the deep state, whatever that means,” Gowdy said.
That kind of rhetoric sounds very like the opposite of a Republican plan to destroy an entire agency. In fact, with a new report from The Daily Caller, it begins to look like those several agents Gowdy mentions were little more than political operatives fortunate enough to have agency jobs that “went on the take” to help plant disparaging information against the candidate they disliked in 2016 — in this case, Donald Trump.
According to The Daily Caller, former deputy associate attorney general Bruce Ohr may have harbored anti-Trump biases, and that made him a great target for Fusion GPS to funnel the Steele dossier to FBI officials after Steele’s relationship with the agency was officially severed (because Steele talked to the press about his work, a big time no-no for an FBI informant).
Because Ohr, who at some point met personally with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, had been identified as a possible way to “grease the wheels” and get the dossier to FBI agents who then might be inclined to investigate its still-unverified contents, the firm “hired” his wife, Nellie (a reported Russian expert) to work on gathering information related to the dossier.
Under a contract from the Clinton campaign, the Fusion GPS research firm was paying the wife of a senior Department of Justice official as part of its efforts to gather opposition research on Trump, and the same official then brought that research to the FBI.
Knowledge of the relationship has raised questions about the extent to which the firm may have paid for heightened access to the criminal justice system, and whether they would have hired Nellie Ohr absent her spousal connection to the DoJ.
A declassified memo said Bruce “Ohr’s wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife’s opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS. The Ohrs’ relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the” court when it was used to obtain a surveillance warrant.
Tom Anderson, an ethics expert at the conservative-leaning watchdog group the National Legal and Policy Center, told The Daily Caller that the financial arrangement between Ohr’s wife and the firm cooking up the dossier appeared to be “government for hire” with the intent of influencing an election.
Texas Republican Rep. Louis Gohmert put it a different way, in his blunt Texas style.
“The money sweetened the pot for the Ohrs, and it certainly made it easier for Fusion to get the dossier to be used before the court if they made that payment to Bruce Ohr’s wife,” former judge and Texas GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert told The Daily Caller News Foundation,
“Fusion had to have known that because of the relationship between Bruce Ohr and his wife, they were bringing Fusion, the DOJ and the DNC together under one roof to work for the same goal, which was to stop Donald Trump from becoming president,” he said.
It would appear that Bruce Ohr’s access to the FBI was for hire to anyone who shared his distaste for the now-president, and could pony up the dough to his wife.
What’s more, if this is true and representative of the focused direction Republicans are taking in the investigation of exactly what happened that allowed an unverified dossier to be used to gain a secret surveillance warrant, it lets the larger FBI off the hook. The agency as a whole looks like it took bad, ginned-up information from a corrupt justice official in good faith and tried to do its job.
This still doesn’t answer the question of why the FBI, DOJ and others knew who funded the dossier when they presented it as evidence to attain the warrant, but failed to disclose that information to the judge. Perhaps those are the few other agents Gowdy is referring to?