Did disgraced Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Peter Strzok and his mistress, former FBI attorney Lisa Page, hatch the plan to use former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr as their go-between with Christopher Steele?
Notes Ohr took during a November 2016 meeting with Strzok and Page — and first revealed last week at The Hill in an article by investigative journalist John Solomon — strongly suggest the couple helped devise the work-around necessitated by Steele’s leaking of the anti-Trump dossier to Mother Jones and others.
Steele’s leaks to Mother Jones and Yahoo News in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election broke the terms of his Confidential Human Source (CHS) agreement with the FBI. Steele’s breach of confidentiality led the bureau to inform the former MI6 spy on Nov. 1, 2016, that he “was not to operate to obtain any intelligence whatsoever on behalf of the FBI.” The FBI later terminated Steele as a CHS.
Steele, however, continued to feed the FBI dirt on Trump, by passing “intelligence” to Ohr, whom the FBI then interviewed. Congress got wind of the FBI’s use of Ohr as a conduit for Steele, prompting Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley to demand the bureau turn over to the oversight committee any pertinent documents detailing the relationship and communications between Ohr, Steele, and Fusion GPS, which commissioned Steele’s opposition research against Donald Trump on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee. The FBI, however, would only allow an in-camera review of the material by select members of Congress.
Grassley later wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting the documents be declassified. In that letter, Grassley also summarized the information gleaned to date, citing “Numerous FD-302s demonstrating that Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr continued to pass along allegations from Mr. Steele to the FBI after the FBI suspended its formal relationship with Mr. Steele for unauthorized contact with the media, and demonstrating that Mr. Ohr otherwise funneled allegations from Fusion GPS and Mr. Steele to the FBI.”
Grassley’s letter also included the dates on which the FBI had interviewed Ohr about Ohr’s conversations with Steele. Those interviews occurred as follows:
The date of the first FBI interview — Nov. 22, 2016 — proves significant in light of Solomon’s article last week, which disclosed the content of notes Ohr took of a meeting with Strzok and Page the day before the FBI conducted its initial debrief of Ohr.
“Ohr’s notes suggest he met Nov. 21, 2016, with FBI officials that included Strzok, then-FBI attorney Lisa Page and another agent,” Solomon wrote, adding that “Ohr’s notes from that meeting indicate that FBI officials told him they ‘may go back to Chris’ — an apparent reference to Steele — just 20 days after dismissing him.”
Did Ohr, Strzok, and Page devise the work-around to allow Steele to continue to feed the FBI information? The date of Ohr’s meeting with Strzok and Page and Ohr’s first “official” FBI interview the following day make that conclusion extremely likely.
The next questions, then, are: Who was the unnamed third FBI agent present during Ohr’s meeting with Strzok and Page? Does that agent remain employed by the bureau? Or, as both Strzok and Page were for a time, does the agent now work with Special Counsel Robert Mueller?
Ohr will reportedly appear before the House Oversight Committee in a closed-door session on Aug. 28, 2018. He has some explaining to do.