Posts Tagged ‘Mueller’

Maxine Waters goes on Trump ‘impeachment’ tear, vows to ‘get him’ — “Then go after Pence.” — Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr weigh in…

September 12, 2018

Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters escalated her rhetorical assault on President Trump over the weekend – vowing to “get him” and repeating the word “impeachment” over and over.

Waters, who took heat earlier this year for urging her supporters to confront Trump administration officials in public, told a group gathered in Los Angeles that some Democratic leaders have asked her to stop talking about impeaching Trump.

“There’s a difference in how some of our leadership talk about how we should handle all of this,” Water said. “They say, ‘Maxine, please don’t say impeachment anymore.’”

“And when they say that, I say ‘impeachment, impeachment, impeachment, impeachment, impeachment, impeachment, impeachment.’”

In video posted by The American Mirror, Waters said she wakes up in the middle of the night and “all I can think about is I’m going to get him,” in reference to Trump.

The California congresswoman, who was accepting an award from the Stonewall Young Democrats on Saturday, has been one of the most outspoken congressional Democrats calling for impeachment. While many in party leadership have shied away from those demands, Waters and her allies are emboldened by the prospect of Democrats retaking the House in the midterms and, potentially, using a majority to launch impeachment proceedings.

In June, Waters made controversial comments amid the backlash over the White House’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy leading to family separations at the border.

“If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere,” Waters said.

The lawmaker later claimed that she wasn’t calling for protesters to actually “harm” Cabinet members.

On Saturday, Waters once again brought up the remarks from earlier in the summer and said she did not threaten Trump supporters — but seemed to joke that she’s done that before.

“It frightened a lot of people, and of course the lying president said that I had threatened all of his constituents,” Waters said. “I did not threaten his constituents, his supporters. I do that all the time, but I didn’t do it that time.”


Alan Dershowitz said on Fox News (Wednesday, September 12, 2018) that Maxine Waters has vowed to “impeach Donald Trump and then impeach Pence.” Dershowitz said there has not been any hint of any wrongdoing by Vice President Mike Pence and talk like this “cheapens the impeachment clause in the Constitution.”

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Dershowitz said he largely agrees with Ken Starr, who said “Putting the nation through that process is really quite wrenching.”

Ken Starr, the former independent counsel whose investigation resulted in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, said Monday that, although the process reflects necessary checks and balances, lawmakers should be “careful” about going down that road.

“Impeachment is hell,” Starr said on “CBS This Morning” while promoting his new book, Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation. He later added: “I think history is teaching us, the history of the ’90s is teaching us about 2018.”

Impeachment chatter has gone relatively quiet in recent months as Democrats have tabled the issue ahead of November’s midterm elections, worried it could alienate voters. Trump, however, speculated about his own possible removal from office at a rally last week, telling his supporters that if he is impeached, “it’s your fault because you didn’t go out to vote.”

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Starr said that, though Clinton was impeached in the House but acquitted in the Senate, the “system did work.”

“Our system of checks and balances worked; that is, the president was held accountable. He, in fact, had to answer to articles of impeachment,” Starr said. “But, at the same time, the American people are very forgiving, and we also want stability. And so, one of the messages of this book is, be careful about impeachment.”

He continued: “Impeachment is hell, and putting the nation through that process is really quite wrenching.”

Trump’s personal lawyers have been in a months-long tête-à-tête regarding Mueller’s request that the president sit down for a wide-ranging interview about his presidential campaign and any possible obstruction of justice. Starr said that he believes a U.S. president has an obligation to obey the law, but “if I’m a criminal defense lawyer, I’m saying, don’t do it.” Trump’s lawyers have worried that the president, known for making off-the-cuff remarks, would contradict himself and inadvertently lie to investigators.

“I don’t think he would engage in a perjury trap, no,” Starr said of the special counsel. “I have every confidence in Bob Mueller.”

Image result for robert mueller, Photos


So Long, Russia. And Thanks! — Presuming the truth of an unsubstantiated claim

August 29, 2018

Democrats have always known that Trump’s business was his real vulnerability.

President Donald Trump speaks in Columbus, Ohio, Aug. 24.
President Donald Trump speaks in Columbus, Ohio, Aug. 24. PHOTO: EVAN VUCCI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Two of his closest associates have been convicted of federal felonies. Surely impeachment is on the agenda next. But not if the subject is Andrew Cuomo, Democratic governor of New York.

Last month, the architect of Mr. Cuomo’s billion-dollar upstate development plan was convicted of bid rigging. In March, another former aide, a longtime confidant whom Mr. Cuomo’s father once referred to as a third son, was found guilty on bribery charges. Somehow we feel sure the New York Times nonetheless will be endorsing Mr. Cuomo for re-election in the fall.

You didn’t need to get five words into the latest calls for Donald Trump’s impeachment to discover it’s over the same objectionable qualities that we’ve heard about for three years. Michael Cohen’s payments to Stephanie Clifford and Karen McDougal are a pretext.

Michael Cohen leaves Federal court in New York, Aug. 21.
Michael Cohen leaves Federal court in New York, Aug. 21. PHOTO: MARY ALTAFFER/ASSOCIATED PRESS

At least it isn’t Russia. This turning of the page is sad for Craig Unger, author of a just-released book about Mr. Trump’s business history, full of sentences like “we do not know exactly when the KGB first opened a file on Donald Trump.” Or how about his description of Oleg Kalugin, the 83-year-old ex-KGB agent living in the U.S. who knows nothing about Mr. Trump, as “a master of the tradecraft that was used to ensnare Trump.”

Such sentences are exercises in the fallacy of begging the question—presuming the truth of an unsubstantiated claim. Unfortunately for Mr. Unger, Mr. Trump’s enemies are throwing aside their Russia crutches. Mr. Trump’s longtime CFO, Allen Weisselberg, has received immunity from a federal prosecutor in New York. No, this does not mean every Trump tax return, loan application, conservation easement or cash transfer now will be scrutinized. But it could. And smart Democrats have known all along that Mr. Trump’s businesses are his real vulnerability.

The sad face that Mr. Trump made on election night after winning, it’s easy to believe, was born of a realization. Nobody has an incentive to invest unreasonable sums of time and money to create legal jeopardy for a loser. A president is different. And Mr. Trump is a fat target. Bill Clinton involved himself in one real-estate deal in his life. Imagine a Whitewater a week for 40 years.

To this columnist, it was inevitable that Mr. Trump’s past would come into collision with our vast regulatory state, which can find something on anybody if it looks hard enough, even somebody more scrupulously honest than Mr. Trump.

Harvard law professor and Bloomberg contributor Noah Feldman positively chortles that the Cohen plea now invites the U.S. attorney in Manhattan to seek more crimes and eventually to “indict the Trump Organization itself and seize assets derived from criminal activity.”

I wonder how this might play in the possibly more nuanced mind of Manafort juror Paula Duncan, who was capable of both appreciating that Paul Manafort was guilty and realizing that the government prosecuted him only because of his connection to President Trump.

Donald Trump, by a Manhattan mile, was better known than any presidential candidate in history—his personal life, his business life, his tics, his mannerisms. A bit dull are those pundits who have spent the past three years flogging and reflogging his demerits as if they discovered them. To anybody with historical imagination, the telling fact was that the American people elected him anyway. They put him in office with a clear democratic will to see how this unusual experiment runs.

While it would be problematic to assume voters gave Mr. Trump a pass for prior crimes, it’s equally problematic to launch a hunt for crimes that didn’t seem worthwhile to the myrmidons of the state before he was elected president.

It also behooves us to take a fresh look at how different Mr. Trump really is—or perhaps better said, in what way he is different and what way he is not. Friday’s headline in the Washington Post, “Trump undermining legal system, critics fear,” has that born-yesterday quality to anybody who’s been paying attention the past few decades. Half of America surely will recall hearing an FBI chief say that Hillary Clinton violated the law in relation to her official duties and it wasn’t worth prosecuting.

The risk of going down this road, thankfully, will be limited as long as Republicans remain a sizeable power in the Senate. A vote to convict after impeachment would be unlikely unless GOP voters themselves decide Mr. Trump has betrayed their cause.

What we’re also going to learn is that even if the federal government is paralyzed for the next two years, even if our politics is more deeply embittered, Mr. Trump can flourish in such an environment.

In the meantime, goodbye to Russia. You served your purpose. Vladimir Putin’s effect on the 2016 election, we can now admit, was trivial—his real influence has come almost entirely through the willingness of U.S. combatants to exploit Russia in pursuit of their own power ambitions and vendettas.

Appeared in the August 29, 2018, print edition.


A Dossier Debunking

August 28, 2018

His lawyer says the Steele claims about Michael Cohen are false.

Michael Cohen leaves Federal court in New York, Aug. 21.
Michael Cohen leaves Federal court in New York, Aug. 21. PHOTO: MARY ALTAFFER/ASSOCIATED PRESS



Michael Cohen’s accusations have replaced Russian collusion as Washington’s reason-du-jour to impeach Donald Trump, which may explain why few are reporting that Mr. Cohen has cast further doubt on what was supposedly a key piece of collusion evidence.

Mr. Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, confirmed last week that Cohen has never been to Prague in the Czech Republic. This is one of the main claims in the Steele dossier that was commissioned by oppo-research firm Fusion GPS, paid for by the Clinton campaign and used by the FBI in its Trump investigation.

The dossier claims Mr. Cohen traveled to Prague in August or September of 2016 to discuss with Kremlin officials how to make “cash payments” to hackers of the Clinton campaign. Mr. Davis now says that the Prague trip and all other allegations about Mr. Cohen in the dossier are “false.”

Mr. Cohen has long denied the Prague accusation and offered his passport as proof. He certainly has no reason to lie now in light of his plea deal, and Mr. Davis would not make such a definitive statement if special counsel Robert Mueller had evidence to the contrary.

Yet as recently as April the McClatchy news service reported that “two sources” said Mr. Mueller had evidence that Mr. Cohen had gone to Prague by traveling “through Germany.” That story was widely echoed in the media, yet few have reported Mr. Davis’s denials of last week.

The FBI has tried to diminish the dossier’s importance to its investigation, though documents show it relied on the dossier in significant part to obtain a surveillance warrant against former Trump aide Carter Page. Perhaps the question to ask is whether the FBI bothered to corroborate anything in the dossier that started the entire Russia-collusion media frenzy.

President Trump could help to answer this and other questions by declassifying and ordering the public release of the relevant classified documents. That would include those that detail the FBI’s work to verify the dossier’s provenance and accusations. If Mr. Trump won’t declassify those documents, he should stop griping about his Justice Department.

Appeared in the August 28, 2018, print edition.


Trump ex-lawyer Michael Cohen admits campaign finance violations —  Cohen appeared to implicate the president

August 22, 2018

 President is in legal jeopardy — President Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to eight criminal counts, including violating campaign finance laws. Cohen’s plea deal could see him providing information to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen leaves New York court house (picture alliance/Zuma Wire/Go Nakamura)

President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight criminal counts on Tuesday, including two campaign finance violations, after he reached an agreement with federal prosecutors in New York.

Cohen has already admitted to using campaign funds to pay hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Trump. However, on Tuesday Cohen appeared to implicate the president when he told the court he had been directed by “a candidate for federal office” to facilitate the payment to Daniels, as well as a further hush money to ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal.

The remaining felony charges facing Cohen are related to tax and bank fraud.

Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis took to Twitter following Tuesday’s hearing, where he directly implicated Trump for orchestrating the payments to Daniels and McDougal. “Today he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election,” Davis posted. “If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?”

Lanny Davis@LannyDavis

Today he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?

Up to 60 months jail time

The broadcaster CNN reported that Cohen’s plea deal will likely involve 36 to 60 months of jail time for Trump’s one-time loyal “fixer.” DW’s Washington Bureau chief Alexandra von Nahmen said the decision was likely “motivated by trying to help his family and reach a deal to reduce his jail time.”

Cohen is set to be sentenced on December 12, according to initial reports, with bail set at $500,000. Initial reports indicate that he has not agreed to testify in other matters.

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said that Cohen’s guilty plea “is yet another set of convictions of the president’s inner circle.”

“The factual basis of the plea, potentially implicating the president in illegal campaign finance violations, adds to the president’s legal jeopardy,” Schiff added.

The financial probe

The FBI raided Cohen’s home and office in April on a referral from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in swaying the 2016 US presidential election.

Since then speculation has mounted that Cohen could ‘flip’ and divulge some important information in the ongoing probe in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Trump has denied any collusion and has called the Mueller investigation a witch hunt, while Russia has denied meddling in the election.

Mueller’s investigation, which began in May 2017, has resulted in the indictment of over 30 people and five guilty pleas. Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is currently on trial in Alexandria, Virginia, for 18 counts of financial crimes resulting from the Mueller probe.

Court room sketch of Michael Cohen (Reuters/J. Rosenberg)

What are the charges?

Cohen has been under investigation in the southern district of New York for alleged bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance violations.

Prosecutors have reportedly been focused on money passing through a limited liability corporation, Essential Consultants, Cohen set up when working for Trump.

A month before the 2016 election, Cohen used the company to make a $130,000 (€110,000) payment to the pornographic actor Stormy Daniels.

Prosecutors are also looking into loans of up to $20 million taken by taxi cab businesses operated by Cohen and family members, The New York Times reported.

After Trump was elected president Cohen allegedly used the company to charge corporations in the US and abroad for access to the new president. Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, has disclosed bank reports showing that several companies, including AT&T, Novartis and a South Korean defense contractor, paid Cohen at least $1.8 million in consulting fees. Cohen’s other clients reportedly included a US-based investment firm with ties to a Russian oligarch.

dm, jbh/rt (AP, Reuters)

Trump: Mueller probe is perjury trap — Even Ronald Reagan faced Democrats wanting to hang him

August 21, 2018

In a broad interview, the US president has said he doesn’t trust the impartiality of those investigating him. ” A fervent critic of Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling, Trump has said he “could run it if I want.”

US President Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump expressed concerns on Monday that any statement made to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading a probe into Russian election meddling, could be used to charge him with perjury.

In a wide-ranging interview to Reuters news agency, Trump echoed similar concerns from his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who is negotiating terms for a possible interview and warned it could be a “perjury trap.”

Trump said that his statements could be used against him if they are contrasted to others who have testified to investigators, including former FBI Director James Comey, who the president fired.

“So if I say something and he [Comey] says somethings, and it’s my word against his, and he’s best friends with Mueller, so Mueller might say: ‘Well, I believe Comey,’ and even if I’m telling the truth, that makes me a liar,” Trump said.

Trump: ‘I could run’ the probe

During the interview, Trump said he had the power to intervene in the probe, but had decided against doing so for the moment.

“I can go in, and I could do whatever — I could run it if I want. But I decided to stay out,” Trump said. “I’m totally allowed to be involved if I wanted to be. So far, I haven’t chosen to be involved. I’ll stay out.”

The president has repeatedly attacked Mueller and his probe into whether Russia coordinated with the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential elections.

On Monday, he described Mueller in a tweet as “disgraced and discredited,” accusing the former FBI director of “enjoying ruining people’s lives.”

Trump’s comments come as a jury deliberates on whether Trump’s former campaign chief Paul Manafort is guilty of banking fraud and failure to pay taxes on tens of millions of dollars he earned while consulting Russian-backed politicians in Ukraine.

If Manafort is found guilty, he would be the first campaign official to do so as a result of the probe. Manafort has pleaded not guilty.

Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen has also been targeted by the probe. Although Cohen said he would “take a bullet” for Trump, observers believe he is likely to collaborate with Mueller’s probe.

The full interview with Trump touched on a range of other topics, including North Korea, Turkey, China, Russia, and the US Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates.

ls/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP)


Democrats in 1987, as today, along with the media—led by the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN—with Democrats in Congress hoped to bring about the impeachment of a Republican president.

How the President Steps on His Own Good News

August 20, 2018

Trump’s addiction to controversy draws attention away from positive developments, such as the economy and generic EpiPen

President Trump greeted the crowd upon arrival at Westhampton Beach, N.Y., on Friday.
President Trump greeted the crowd upon arrival at Westhampton Beach, N.Y., on Friday. PHOTO: KYLE MAZZA/ZUMA PRESS

Let’s imagine for a moment a parallel universe in which President Trump last week didn’t call a onetime top female aide a “dog,” revoke the security clearance of a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, author 10 tweets attacking Federal Bureau of Investigation officials or unleash another 11 criticizing aspects of the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller.

In that parallel universe, which of these other stories might have gotten more attention?

A Commerce Department report on booming sales in grocery stores, restaurants and department stores.

The largest one-day rise in the stock market in four months.

The approval by Mr. Trump’s own Food and Drug Administration of a lifesaving generic version of the EpiPen injector device for allergic reactions.

The resumption of trade talks with Chinese officials who increasingly appear shaken by the Trump administration’s tough actions.

Probably, all of them would have gotten more attention. Which simply points to one of the most baffling aspects of the Trump presidency: the way the president’s addiction to controversy and his attraction to fights get in the way of his own best interests.

In a conventional presidency, the White House in general, and the president in particular, would be far more inclined to ignore critics and stay away from feuds, particularly when there are good things to talk about instead. The White House is the ultimate bully pulpit, after all, with the ability to help set the national conversation.

And there actually are good things to talk about in Trump world. The economic picture is one any president would envy. Economic growth is steady, employment is growing, retail sales are soaring and the stock market is way up. A new report last week found that worker productivity, oddly stagnant in recent years, is rising, another development that got virtually no attention.

Of course, this economic surge may be a temporary sugar high, driven by a tax cut that is driving up the deficit—and by extension interest rates—to unsustainable levels. What now appear to be Chinese efforts to calm fears of a crippling trade war could turn around any day.

For now, though, that’s not the picture. And the point is that the president often deflects attention to the negative. He seems incapable of moving away from of his longstanding practice in the private sector of punching back at any and all who challenge him.

That may make sense in a real-estate battle, or even in a political campaign, but in a presidency the practice of constantly counterpunching actually turns the initiative over to the punchers. One of the powers a president has is to ignore critics, deprive them of oxygen and turn attention elsewhere.

When Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton faced their own independent counsel investigations, they set up systems to keep the investigations, and the stories about them, out of the Oval Office. Mr. Reagan, in particular, agreed under urging by aides to refuse to even answer questions about the Iran-Contra inquiry until it was completed. Mr. Trump, by contrast, brings the Mueller investigation into the White House on an almost daily basis.

The president and his aides doubtless blame the media—otherwise known as the fake-news, enemy-of-the-people media—for focusing only on the bad and controversial. That would make Mr. Trump the 45th president (out of 45) who has made that complaint. It goes with the territory.

In fact, Mr. Trump almost compels the press to cover stories that infuriate him by refusing to ignore them himself. His almost daily attacks on Mr. Mueller are actually keeping a spotlight on his inquiry. When the president is publicly attacking a special counsel, or FBI agents, or a former CIA chief, by name, that is not a story that can or should be ignored.

A reasonable gauge of this president’s public messaging is his Twitter feed, and there the count over the past week is as follows: Tweets on the disputes regarding the Mueller investigation, the security clearance of former CIA head John Brennan and the Mueller investigation, and the feud with former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman : 43. Tweets on the economy: seven.

One price of that practice is its distraction from positive developments elsewhere. A prime example lies in the work being done by Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the Trump-appointed commissioner of the FDA. One of his top priorities is to find ways to go beyond talking about lowering drug prices and to actually do it—in particular, by speeding approvals of generic alternatives to expensive brand-name drugs.

That initiative helped produce last week’s EpiPen decision, a move that figures to lower the cost of a lifesaving drug for Americans across the land. For them, that’s a lot more important than the president’s tweets about Omarosa.

Write to Gerald F. Seib at

Five things to know about Bruce Ohr, and the “afraid we’ll be exposed” email

August 19, 2018

President Donald Trump has recently attacked Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, linking the figure to his allegations of bias in the federal Russia probe.

Ohr has long drawn intense scrutiny from figures on the right, but he received broad attention after Trump said Friday that he is planning to revoke his security clearance following the president’s controversial decision to revoke the clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan.

The Hill

Bruce Ohr in Washington, D.C. on June 3, 2010.
Bruce Ohr in Washington, D.C. on June 3, 2010. PHOTO: C-SPAN

While it’s unclear in what full capacity the official is currently serving at the Department of Justice (DOJ), Ohr and his wife have caught the attention of Republican lawmakers, who are now seeking to interview the couple, among other figures.

From Ohr’s ties to intelligence firm Fusion GPS to the president’s threats, here are five things to know about the Justice Department official.

Trump is threatening to take away Ohr’s security clearance

The president told reporters Fridaythat he is planning on revoking Ohr’s security clearance “very quickly,” calling the official “a disgrace.”

“For him to be in the Justice Department and doing what he did, that is a disgrace,” Trump said.

If Trump follows through on the promise, it would be the first time he pulled a security clearance from a current DOJ staffer, a move that would likely inflame tensions between the president and the intelligence community.

Trump pulled the security clearance for Brennan, a vocal critic who served as CIA chief under former President Obama, earlier in the week and the White House has reportedly drafted documents for the president to revoke several other former officials’ clearances.

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Nellie Ohr and Bruce Ohr

It’s unclear how revoking Ohr’s clearance might affect his ability to do parts of his job. Those who have maintained their clearances after leaving government have mostly done so to preserve current officials’ ability to ask them questions about particular issues.

Ohr was demoted over his ties to Steele

Ohr, who previously served as associate deputy attorney general, was demoted late last year over his contacts with former British spy Christopher Steele, who assembled the controversial dossier alleging ties between Trump and Russia.

The longtime government prosecutor was demoted in December 2017 after the DOJ learned he had been in touch with Steele. Ohr also worked as the head of Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces before being removed from that position as well.

While the agency has not commented recently on Ohr’s current role at the DOJ, a source familiar with his position told CNN this week that Ohr is serving as an attorney in the DOJ’s criminal division.

The agency pointed The Washington Post to a June statement from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the No. 2 official at the DOJ.

“Mr. Ohr is a career employee of the department. He was there when I arrived. To my knowledge, he wasn’t working on the Russia matter,” Rosenstein told the House Intelligence Committee at the time. “When we learned of the relevant information, we arranged to transfer Mr. Ohr to a different office.”

The FBI interviewed Ohr about his contacts with Steele. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has asked that the reports that include the interviews be declassified.

Ohr’s wife worked for the firm behind the Steele dossier

Much of the scrutiny on Ohr has surrounded his ties to Steele, whose dossier made salacious and unverified claims on the relationship between Trump and Russia.

Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, has worked for Fusion GPS, the firm that funded Steele’s research behind the document.

The Post reported that Bruce Ohr’s financial disclosure form listed his wife’s occupation as an “independent contractor.”

However, it’s unknown how large or small of a role Nellie Ohr played in the research that went into the dossier.

court filing from the co-founder of Fusion GPS said the firm contracted with Nellie Ohr to help “with its research and analysis of Mr. Trump.”

Ohr knew both Steele and the head of Fusion GPS

The Hill’s John Solomon reported earlier this month that Bruce Ohr and Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson had met shortly after Trump won the 2016 election, and that Ohr wrote in handwritten notes that it was believed that Trump’s former longtime personal lawyer Micahel Cohen was the “go-between from Russia to the Trump campaign.”

“Much of the collection about the Trump campaign ties to Russia comes from a former Russian intelligence officer (? not entirely clear) who lives in the U.S.,” Ohr also wrote in the notes.

The Post reported that Simpson and Ohr knew each other from organized crime conferences, and that Steele also knew the DOJ official from their work in the same field.

Simpson testified before the House Intelligence Committee that Steele had recommended he talk to Ohr after Trump’s election victory.

And emails obtained by The Hill also showed that Steele had contacted Ohr ahead of the 2016 election, with the British intelligence officer writing that he wanted to discuss “our favorite business tycoon!”

It’s unclear who Steele was referring to in the email. The two men had previously discussed Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, but it also may have referred to Trump.

Conservative lawmakers will question Ohr

The Hill reported earlier this month that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is preparing subpoenas for Ohr, his wife and Simpson.

“We plan to interview the people [mentioned] in the coming weeks and we will issue subpoenas to compel their attendance if necessary,” a GOP House Judiciary aide told The Hill.

Lawmakers are now set to question Ohr during a closed-door interview on Aug. 28.

Conservative lawmakers have pointed to Ohr’s ties to Steele and Simpson as evidence of bias against Trump in the DOJ and in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

Those Republicans have previously seized on the inclusion of information provided by Steele to the FBI in an application to obtain a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

The warrant application, released last month, showed that the FBI cut off ties with Steele after discovering he was sharing information with the media.




Chuck Ross | Reporter

Dossier author Christopher Steele told Justice Department official Bruce Ohr after James Comey’s firing last year that he was “afraid they will be exposed.”

What exactly Steele was concerned about having exposed after Comey’s May 9, 2017 firing is not made clear in Ohr’s notes, which were reported by Fox News.

The text message is part of a trove of emails, text messages and handwritten notes that the Justice Department has provided to Congress as part of an investigation into the government’s handling of the Steele dossier.

Steele told Ohr in a May 10, 2017 phone call that he was “very concerned abt Comey’s firing — afraid they will be exposed,” according to Fox.

Steele’s interactions with Ohr have been a focal point for congressional Republicans in their investigation into the government’s possible abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The dossier, which Steele wrote on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC, was used to obtain FISA warrants on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Republicans say that the dossier was not verified when the FBI used it to obtain the spy warrants.

Page, an energy consultant who joined the Trump team in March 2016, has vehemently denied the dossier’s allegations about him. In the 35-page report, Steele alleges that Page was the Trump campaign’s main contact to the Kremlin.

Justice Department documents given to Congress show that Steele and Ohr were in contact all throughout 2016 and 2017, though Ohr’s involvement was not revealed until December. Following a report from Fox News on Ohr’s contacts with Steele and Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson, he was demoted as assistant deputy attorney general at the Justice Department. (RELATED: Glenn Simpson’s Claims About His Interactions With Bruce Ohr Don’t Add Up)

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was Ohr’s boss, has told Congress that he was not aware of Ohr’s contacts with Steele or Simpson. It is unclear if Rosenstein’s predecessor, Sally Yates, knew what Ohr was up to.

Steele first reached out to Ohr in January 2016 seeking help for a Russian oligarch named Oleg Deripaska. Text messages and emails suggest that the former MI6 officer lobbied Ohr to keep an eye on the status of negotiations between Deripasksa and the U.S. government for the billionaire’s visa. Deripaska is a close ally of Vladimir Putin’s. He has also worked with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. (RELATED: Emails Show Christopher Steele Lobbied DOJ Official On Behalf Of Putin-Linked Oligarch)

Ohr also corresponded with Steele after the 2016 election about the Russia investigation. By that time, the FBI had ended its relationship with Steele because he made unauthorized disclosures to the media. Steele met with numerous reporters in September and October 2016 about his Trump-Russia findings.

Ohr provided a dozen briefings to the FBI from November 2016 to May 2017 about his interactions with Steele.

An added wrinkle is that Ohr’s wife, a Russia expert named Nellie, was directly involved in the anti-Trump investigation. She worked as a researcher for Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that hired Steele.

Trump Says He Allowed White House Counsel to ‘Fully Cooperate’ With Russia Probe

August 19, 2018

Don McGahn spent over 30 hours in interviews with the special counsel investigating election interference

White House counsel Don McGahn factors into a number of episodes special counsel Robert Mueller is examining in regards to the Russia probe.
White House counsel Don McGahn factors into a number of episodes special counsel Robert Mueller is examining in regards to the Russia probe. PHOTO: ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES

President Trump said Saturday that he gave White House counsel Don McGahn permission to cooperate extensively with the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election, following a news report detailing the extent of Mr. McGahn’s interactions.


Donald J. Trump


I allowed White House Counsel Don McGahn, and all other requested members of the White House Staff, to fully cooperate with the Special Counsel. In addition we readily gave over one million pages of documents. Most transparent in history. No Collusion, No Obstruction. Witch Hunt!

“I allowed White House Counsel Don McGahn, and all other requested members of the White House Staff, to fully cooperate with the Special Counsel,” Mr. Trump wrote in a tweet Saturday, while spending the weekend at his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J. “In addition we readily gave over one million pages of documents. Most transparent in history. No Collusion, No Obstruction. Witch Hunt!

Mr. McGahn, who has been involved in many sensitive matters in the Trump White House, spent 30 hours in three voluntary interviews with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The New York Times first reported Saturday on the 30 hours of interviews and that Mr. McGahn and his lawyer, William Burck, had been perplexed by the president’s willingness to allow him to cooperate with the probe.

Mr. Burck said in a statement Saturday that Mr. Trump “through counsel, declined to assert any privilege over Mr. McGahn’s testimony, so Mr. McGahn answered the Special Counsel team’s questions fulsomely and honestly, as any person interviewed by federal investigators must.”

Experts say it would have been difficult to assert privilege over Mr. McGahn’s testimony. In 1998, the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that White House deputy counsel Bruce Lindsey couldn’t assert attorney-client privilege to avoid testifying before a grand jury, amid an investigation into former President Bill Clinton’s administration.

Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, said in an interview that Mr. Trump had urged Mr. McGahn to cooperate “because the president is confident that he’ll just tell the truth, and the truth reveals the situation in which the president didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Did he provide anything harmful? The answer is no he didn’t,” Mr. Giuliani said. Mr. Giuliani said if he himself were to interview with Mr. Mueller, “we’d be talking for three to four days. But there would be nothing in it that was harmful to the president.”

The special counsel is investigating whether Trump associates colluded with what U.S. intelligence agencies say were Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election, as well as whether Mr. Trump sought to obstruct justice by, among other actions, firing former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey. Mr. Trump has denied collusion and obstruction, and Moscow has denied election interference.

Mr. McGahn factors into a number of episodes Mr. Mueller is examining. Last summer, while the investigation was under way, the president sought to fire Mr. Mueller, but backed off when Mr. McGahn said he would resign rather than carry out the order, a person familiar with the matter said.

Mr. McGahn was also on the receiving end of a warning in April to the president from Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to fire his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Mueller investigation. Mr. Sessions told Mr. McGahn that he would consider resigning if Mr. Trump fired his deputy, according to a person familiar with the message.

Mr. McGahn was also involved in conversations with the president as Mr. Trump moved to fire Mr. Comey in May 2017. Days before the firing, Mr. Trump dressed down Mr. McGahn and Steve Bannon, his chief strategist at the time, over Mr. Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation two months earlier.

Mr. McGahn, who has served the president since the campaign days, has had an often difficult relationship with his boss. The president has at times complained about Mr. McGahn in conversations with aides and talked about replacing him, saying he doesn’t like his legal advice, one person close to the White House said.

Mr. McGahn, too, has mused about stepping down, after a year and a half in the crucible of the Russia investigation, the legal challenges to the travel ban executive order and other White House controversies, people familiar with the matter said. He is widely expected to leave the White House if and when Brett Kavanaugh, Mr. Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy, is confirmed.

About 50 administration employees and former campaign staff have been interviewed as part of the probe, one of the president’s former lawyers said earlier this year. Four associates of Mr. Trump have been charged by the special prosecutor, three of whom have pleaded guilty.

Mr. McGahn urged other members of the White House Counsel’s Office to use his attorney, according to a person familiar with the matter, a move that left the impression he wanted to ensure his office colleagues gave consistent accounts.

A person close to Mr. McGahn disputed that account.

The White House agreed to allow current and former officials to voluntarily cooperate with Mr. Mueller’s investigators in exchange for the special counsel not issuing subpoenas to those officials, according to this  person. The White House didn’t agree to waive executive privilege for those officials, the person said.

Write to Rebecca Ballhaus at

Mueller recommends up to six months of jail time for Papadopoulos

August 18, 2018
Robert Mueller
Robert Mueller. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Special Counsel Robert Mueller recommended up to six months in prison for former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, reports Reuters.

His reasoning: Mueller called prison for Papadopoulos “appropriate and warranted” in a court filing after the former campaign aide lied to federal agents investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Papadopoulos is scheduled for sentencing on September 7.


Some Republicans will say how about Hillary Clinton, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Bruce Ohr and a host of others…. None of them lied during the investigation?

What Was Bruce Ohr Doing?

August 17, 2018

Justice releases some damning documents, but much of the truth is still classified.

Bruce Ohr in Washington, D.C. on June 3, 2010.
Bruce Ohr in Washington, D.C. on June 3, 2010. PHOTO: C-SPAN

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department have continued to insist they did nothing wrong in their Trump-Russia investigation. This week should finally bring an end to that claim, given the clear evidence of malfeasance via the use of Bruce Ohr.

Mr. Ohr was until last year associate deputy attorney general. He began feeding information to the FBI from dossier author Christopher Steele in late 2016—after the FBI had terminated Mr. Steele as a confidential informant for violating the bureau’s rules. He also collected dirt from Glenn Simpson, cofounder of Fusion GPS, the opposition-research firm that worked for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and employed Mr. Steele. Altogether, the FBI pumped Mr. Ohr for information at least a dozen times, debriefs that remain in classified 302 forms.

All the while, Mr. Ohr failed to disclose on financial forms that his wife, Nellie, worked alongside Mr. Steele in 2016, getting paid by Mr. Simpson for anti-Trump research. The Justice Department has now turned over Ohr documents to Congress that show how deeply tied up he was with the Clinton crew—with dozens of emails, calls, meetings and notes that describe his interactions and what he collected.

Mr. Ohr’s conduct is itself deeply troubling. He was acting as a witness (via FBI interviews) in a case being overseen by a Justice Department in which he held a very senior position. He appears to have concealed this role from at least some superiors, since Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testified that he’d been unaware of Mr. Ohr’s intermediary status.

Lawyers meanwhile note that it is a crime for a federal official to participate in any government matter in which he has a financial interest. Fusion’s bank records presumably show Nellie Ohr, and by extension her husband, benefiting from the Trump opposition research that Mr. Ohr continued to pass to the FBI. The Justice Department declined to comment.

But for all Mr. Ohr’s misdeeds, the worse misconduct is by the FBI and Justice Department. It’s bad enough that the bureau relied on a dossier crafted by a man in the employ of the rival presidential campaign. Bad enough that it never informed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of that dossier’s provenance. And bad enough that the FBI didn’t fire Mr. Steele as a confidential human source in September 2016 when it should have been obvious he was leaking FBI details to the press to harm Donald Trump’s electoral chances. It terminated him only when it was absolutely forced to, after Mr. Steele gave an on-the-record interview on Oct. 31, 2016.

But now we discover the FBI continued to go to this discredited informant in its investigation after the firing—by funneling his information via a Justice Department cutout. The FBI has an entire manual governing the use of confidential sources, with elaborate rules on validations, standards and documentation. Mr. Steele failed these standards. The FBI then evaded its own program to get at his info anyway.

And it did so even though we have evidence that lead FBI investigators may have suspected Mr. Ohr was a problem. An Oct. 7, 2016, text message from now-fired FBI agent Peter Strzok to his colleague Lisa Page reads: “Jesus. More BO leaks in the NYT,” which could be a reference to Mr. Ohr.

The FBI may also have been obtaining, via Mr. Ohr, information that came from a man the FBI had never even vetted as a source—Mr. Simpson. Mr. Steele had at least worked with the FBI before; Mr. Simpson was a paid political operative. And the Ohr notes raise further doubts about Mr. Simpson’s forthrightness. In House testimony in November 2017, Mr. Simpson said only that he reached out to Mr. Ohr after the election, and at Mr. Steele’s suggestion. But Mr. Ohr’s inbox shows an email from Mr. Simpson dated Aug. 22, 2016 that reads, in full: “Can u ring.”

The Justice Department hasn’t tried to justify any of this; in fact, last year it quietly demoted Mr. Ohr. In what smells of a further admission of impropriety, it didn’t initially turn over the Ohr documents; Congress had to fight to get them.

But it raises at least two further crucial questions. First, who authorized or knew about this improper procedure? Mr. Strzok seems to be in the thick of it, having admitted to Congress interactions with Mr. Ohr at the end of 2016. While Mr. Rosenstein disclaims knowledge, Mr. Ohr’s direct supervisor at the time was the previous deputy attorney general, Sally Yates. Who else in former FBI Director Jim Comey’s inner circle and at the Obama Justice Department nodded at the FBI’s back-door interaction with a sacked source and a Clinton operative?

Second, did the FBI continue to submit Steele- or Simpson-sourced information to the FISA court? Having informed the court in later applications that it had fired Mr. Steele, the FBI would have had no business continuing to use any Steele information laundered through an intermediary.

We could have these answers pronto; they rest in part in those Ohr 302 forms. And so once again: a call for President Trump to declassify.