Judicial Watch announced U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton instructed the Justice Department to immediately begin producing records about DOJ communications with Nellie Ohr, the wife of senior DOJ official Bruce Ohr. Nellie Ohr worked for Clinton campaign vendor Fusion GPS on the anti-Trump Dossier campaign document.
Judge Walton rejected a Justice Department request to begin producing documents six months from now and ordered the DOJ to begin producing documents immediately on a rolling basis over the next two months.
Judge Walton also rejected DOJ’s efforts to restrict their search to only 2016.
Judge Walton repeatedly criticized the Justice Department during a June 14 hearing:
I think if it’s been almost, since December when the initial request was made more should have been done by now. And it seems to me if you have someone who’s going to come into office and they say they’re going to be a disrupter, that they should appreciate there’s going to be a lot of FOIA requests and therefore, should gear up to deal with those requests. So I’m not real sympathetic to the position that you have limited staff and therefore, you can’t comply with these requests. So I think you’re going to have to get some more people.
I mean FOIA is considered to be very important. I keep getting from the government, from various agencies we can’t do this, we can’t do that because we don’t have the resources. I’m not real sympathetic to that. FOIA is important. Open government is important, and government has to comply with FOIA in order to make it an open government.
In March 2018 Judicial Watch filed the FOIA lawsuit after the Justice Department failed to respond to a December 2017 FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No.1:18-cv-00491)). The lawsuit seeks:
All records of contact or communication, including but not limited to emails, text messages, and instant chats, between DOJ officials in the Attorney General’s Office and Fusion GPS employee or contractor Nellie Ohr.
“We are pleased another court rejected the Justice Department’s inexcusable stonewalling on documents of intense public interest – Obama DOJ collusion with the Clinton campaign vendor Fusion GPS to target then-candidate Donald Trump,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “How extraordinary it is that this Justice Department is now under court order to stop stalling on releasing records about potential corruption in the Obama Justice Department!”
In December 2017, Bruce Ohr was removed from his position as U.S. Associate Deputy Attorney General after it was revealed that he conducted undisclosed meetings with anti-Trump dossier author Christopher Steel and Glenn Simpson, principal of Fusion GPS. A House Intelligence Committee memo released by Chairman Devin Nunes on February 2 noted that Ohr’s wife, Nellie, was “employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump” and that Bruce Ohr passed the results of that research, which was paid for by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign, to the FBI.
The dossier was written by former British spy Christopher Steele and funded by the Hilary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Mr. Steele and his Kremlin sources accused Mr. Page of serious crimes. It says that while on a trip to Moscow in July 2016 to deliver a public speech he met with two Kremlin figures and discussed receiving bribes for sanctions relief.
It was this part of Mr. Steele’s broad series of charges against President Trump and his aides that clenched the surveillance warrant’s approval since the FBI needed to alleged that a crime was committed.
Mr. Page, a former Navy officer who lived in Moscow as an investor, has repeatedly denied the charges under oath. The FBI, after wiretapping Mr. Page for nearly a year beginning on Oct. 21, 2016, has not confirmed the allegation.
Said the Nunes letter, “The FBI [guidance] provides internal oversight and controls over authorized FBI activities so the American public can be assured the Bureau is conducting its vital mission in accordance with law and established guidelines. However, in this instance it’s clear that basic operating guidance was violated.”
Mr. Nunes said that “the presentation of false and/or unverified information” to the FISA judge who approved the Page wiretap “could entail violations” of five federal laws including conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
He asked Mr. Sessions two questions: is the 2011 FBI FISA protocols the committee possesses still in effect and if so “what steps has the DoJ and/or the FBI taken to hold accountable those officials who violated these protocols?”
Mr. Nunes said the FBI manual says, “FISA surveillance is a very intrusive means of acquiring information that must balance the need to obtain sensitive national security information against civil liberties.”
Mr. Nunes and his Republican colleagues issued a declassified memo on Feb. 2 that said the FBI attempted to corroborate the dossier in the FISA filing by citing a September 2016 Yahoo News story.
But the dossier and the Yahoo story came from the same source — Mr. Steele — so there was no outside corroboration. Republicans have accused Mr. Steele of lying to the FBI by denying he was the Yahoo source.
Mr. Nunes has also castigated the FBI for not disclosing to the judge that the dossier was basically a Democratic political hit job on Mr. Trump.
Seven libel suits have been filed by four people accused in the dossier against Mr. Steele, Yahoo, Fusion GPS, which paid Mr. Steele, and BuzzFeed, which published the dossier on Jan. 10, 2017.
To the chagrin of Democrats, Mr. Nunes began a parallel investigation of Russia election interference to examine the dossier. Through a court case, he found out that the Democrats and Mrs. Clinton funded the project as opposition research.
He also pressed the Justice Department for documents that showed what he considers the FBI’s FISA abuse.
He discovered that a high-ranking Justice official, Bruce Ohr, met with Mr. Steele during the election and served as a conduit to the FBI for material from his wife, Nellie, who worked at Fusion GPS.
Mr. Steele told Mr. Ohr he was “desperate” to sink the Trump campaign, according to the official’s FBI interview.
Peter Strzok, the FBI agent leading the Trump probe at the time the Page warrant was acquired, was fired by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for making a series of anti-Trump comments in texts to his FBI lover.
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
August 13th, 2018