By Jon Dougherty
The Justice Department under President Barack Obama routinely thwarted Republican members of Congress in their attempts to perform oversight of the Executive Branch as they investigated a host of scandals including the “Fast and Furious” operation involving the running of guns from the U.S. into Mexico. Now that Obama is gone and POTUS Donald Trump is in the White House, not much has changed.
POTUS Donald Trump’s Justice Department has also not been responsive to GOP efforts to find answers to the massive, multi-faceted “Spygate” operation, proving that “deep state” careerists opposed to his presidency continue to permeate the department despite its changing of political hands.
Frustrated with the department’s repeated lack of response to lawful, constitutional requests for documents, one Republican lawmaker has had enough of the stonewalling: Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. On Friday, he took the highly unusual step of releasing one-time DoJ ranking official Bruce Ohr’s August 28, 2018, congressional testimony in full.
As PJ Media reported, Collins took to the House floor on Friday to ask that Ohr’s entire testimony be entered into the Congressional Record and note that his patience with the department’s reluctance to respond to legitimate document requests “has grown thin.”
“Mr. Speaker, last Congress, the Judiciary Committee interviewed multiple DOJ and FBI officials about their actions regarding the 2016 elections,” Collins said.
“People anticipate the Mueller report soon. Will he find any so-called ‘collusion’? Or was the only ‘collusion’ among agency personnel who hated the president and started this investigation?” he added. “Our interview transcripts were pertinent to a congressional investigation, but the 115th Congress ended, the investigation was closed, and copies were shared with certain members of Congress.”
— Rep. Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) March 8, 2019
The Daily Caller noted further:
Ohr served in 2016 and 2017 as a back channel between the FBI and Christopher Steele, the former British spy who authored the anti-Trump dossier alleging collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked as a contractor for Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that hired Steele.
During his testimony, Ohr said he warned the FBI and Justice Department that the dossier was very likely political in nature because it was connected (commissioned) by the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign and, thus, very biased and likely inaccurate.
But Ohr’s warnings about political bias in the dossier were conspicuously absent some weeks later when, in September, the FBI filed for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant with the secretive FISA court, which gave agents permission to begin spying on the 2016 Trump campaign for alleged “Russian collusion” to steal the election.
Collins said Friday he intends to release additional transcripts from interviews conducted by the task force of members from the then-Republican-led House Judiciary and House Oversight Committees that interviewed Ohr. Lawmakers have also interviewed Nellie Ohr and FBI and Justice Department officials such as former FBI general counsel James Baker and former FBI attorney Lisa Page.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we gave DoJ an opportunity to review them for information that would endanger national security, but after many months and little progress, our patience has grown thin,” Collins said.
“The proposed redactions have nothing to do with national security and are anathema to our goal of government transparency,” he continued, adding, “I am, therefore, today making one of these transcripts public.”
“I intend to make other transcripts public soon,” he added. “I’m willing to consider any reasonable redactions DoJ makes in a timely manner, but won’t allow these transcripts to remain shrouded in secrecy.”
In the August hearing, as The Daily Caller notes:
Bruce Ohr undercut several claims made by Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, and California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
Bruce Ohr testified that he met with Simpson on Aug. 22, 2016 to discuss information from the dossier. That contradicted Simpson’s testimony to House Intelligence on Nov. 14, 2017 that he did not meet with Bruce Ohr until after the election.
Bruce Ohr also told lawmakers that he told the FBI about his contacts with Steele in early August 2016, days after he and Nellie Ohr met the former British spy in Washington, D.C.
Schiff claimed in a memo released on Feb. 24, 2018 that Bruce Ohr did not tell the FBI about his contacts with Steele until after the election.
As we noted in August, during an interview with Fox News‘ Martha McCallum, Rep. John Radcliff, R-Texas, a former U.S. attorney, said that he had personally viewed the unredacted copies of the Justice Department’s FISA warrant applications, but that none of them mention Ohr and his wife Nellie Ohr.
We reported further:
Radcliff said none of the four FISA applications signed by former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy FBI Director Andy McCabe and current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein mentioned the Ohr’s, and that their names were purposely withheld from the FISA court, a major violation of the law.
The Federalist co-founder Sean Davis filled in additional details:
As the new Democrat majority launches additional probes — without any justification — into Team Trump 2016, the president, his family, and anyone associated with his campaign, his allies in Congress appear to be going on the offense. That’s a good thing; unilateral releases of testimony transcripts related to the GOP House’s interviews of key Spygate witnesses appears to be the only way Americans will ever get to find out the extent of the continuing coup attempt against him.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10