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Bombshell or nothingburger? DC in a frenzy over Bruce Ohr’s Steele dossier testimony

Bombshell or nothingburger? DC in a frenzy over Bruce Ohr’s Steele dossier testimony
As Congress prepares to grill a DOJ official on the Steele dossier amid reports that the FBI leaked information to the press to justify warrants to spy on the Trump campaign, media outlets are scrambling to frame the narrative.

Is Bruce Ohr a victim of political persecution or the key to debunking Russiagate? Depends on what camp you’re in.

Ohr is set to testify Tuesday during a closed  session of the House Oversight Committee, where he is expected to undergo a thorough interrogation about his relationship and dealings with ex-British spy Christopher Steele – the author of the infamous and unsubstantiated ‘dossier’ detailing President Donald Trump’s ties to Moscow.

The Justice Department official’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS, the research and intelligence group that was paid by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee to create the steamy but unverified Trump dossier. Ohr himself is believed to have met with Steele numerous times, beginning in late 2016 through May 2017. He has been accused of acting as a middle man between Steele and the FBI – even after the Bureau dropped Steele as a source in November 2016 over his unauthorized contacts with the media.

Congressional testimony from now-fired FBI agent Peter Strzok confirmed that the FBI had received“documents and material” from the DOJ official – despite the fact that Ohr had no formal role in the Russia investigation.

Republican lawmakers have taken a keen interest in Ohr, whose testimony could shed light on alleged DOJ and FBI leaks to the press about the dossier. A 2016 article published by Yahoo! News about the unverified allegations levelled against Trump was later cited by the FBI to justify the surveillance of a top Trump aide, Carter Page.

Ohr’s interview with Congress comes on the heels of a Daily Caller report claiming that FBI Special Agent Jonathan Moffa told congressional investigators on Friday that the FBI and Justice Department have leaked stories to the press and then used them to obtain warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC), a member of the House Oversight Committee, appears to have corroborated the Daily Caller’s exclusive, tweeting on Monday night that: “We’ve learned NEW information suggesting our suspicions are true: FBI/DOJ have previously leaked info to the press, and then used those same press stories as a separate source to justify FISA’s.” Meadows added that the new information makes Ohr’s testimony “even more critical,” posing the question: “Did he ever do this?”

Some media outlets have framed Ohr’s scheduled testimony as a political witch hunt aimed at undermining Robert Mueller’s probe into collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Under the headline “Republicans Find a New Target in Fight to Discredit Russia Probe,” Politico hinted that Ohr was being wrongfully targeted, stating that Republican lawmakers "have fixated on a handful of career Justice Department and FBI officials.”

The New York Times ran a detailed profile of Ohr on Monday, describing him as a professional law enforcement official who tackled Russian organized crime. The report cites “formal law enforcement officials” who claimed that there was nothing unusual about Ohr’s meetings with Steele.

Trump tweeted about the looming showdown last week, urging Attorney General Jeff Sessions to “look into” corruption on “the other side,” including “Ohr, FISA abuse, Christopher Steele & his phony and corrupt Dossier, the Clinton Foundation, illegal surveillance of Trump Campaign, Russian collusion by Dems – and so much more.” The president added: “Come on Jeff, you can do it, the country is waiting!”

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