The FBI released a number of internal reports late on Thursday, Aug. 8, that document interviews taken with Justice Department official Bruce Ohr during 2016 and 2017.
The interviews reveal interactions that Ohr had in 2016 with Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer who was hired by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), through the political consulting firm Fusion GPS, to do “opposition research” and dredge up dirt on then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Steele, who also had a history as a credible investigator for the FBI, was hired by Fusion GPS to develop the Trump-Russia collusion story on behalf of the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
The newly-released FBI reports also confirm that Steele met with Bruce Ohr well before the 2016 election and affirm that Fusion GPS’s political clients were anxious for Steele’s Russia-collusion story to gain publicity through the media before the November 8 election.
In addition, Bruce Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked as a contractor for Fusion GPS during the same timeframe, giving him yet another connection to the politically slanted research that Steele was developing prior to the election.
Through late 2016, Ohr reportedly served as an informal link between Steele’s Fusion GPS-funded Russia research and the FBI, which helped lay the foundation for the FBI’s own Russia investigation.
Ohr was demoted from his position as associate deputy attorney general within the Justice Department after his connections to Christopher Steele came to light. The FBI also terminated its working relationship with Steele, after Steele was discovered to have leaked details of his Russia research to a news reporter in December of 2016.
By that time, however, the FBI, under Director James Comey, had already used Steele as a confidential informant when it obtained the first of several Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants used to place Trump campaign aide Carter Page under surveillance.
The FBI proceeded to expand its investigation into Russia-Trump collusion, despite knowing the investigation’s political origins and despite Steele’s research being unverified.
On May 17, 2017, the FBI established the Special Counsel’s office under Robert Mueller III to lead the investigation. However, after nearly two years, the special counsel found “insufficient evidence” to link President Trump or his campaign to Russian efforts to affect the 2016 election.