The Justice Department will release FBI documents early next week related to Bruce Ohr, the Justice Department official who met with dossier author Christopher Steele.
In a court filing submitted last Thursday, Justice Department lawyers said the agency will provide FBI notes of interviews conducted with Ohr to Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that sued for the records last year.
Justice Department lawyers said that the agency had initially determined that the Ohr transcripts, known as 302s, should be withheld in full. But “after further review in conjunction with DOJ’s preparation of its motion for summary judgment, DOJ has decided to release the requested records in part to Plaintiff,” the lawyers said.
“DOJ will make this release to Plaintiff by August 5, 2019.”
It is not clear what documents will be released, and which might be withheld. Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton announced Thursday night that the documents would be released “imminently.”
Judicial Watch sued on Sept. 10 for a dozen 302s the FBI compiled between Nov. 22, 2016 and May 15, 2017. FBI agents interviewed Ohr after meetings and conversations with Steele, a former British spy who investigated the Trump campaign on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC.
FBI investigators had tasked Ohr to serve as an unofficial backchannel to Steele as part of the bureau’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia. The FBI cut ties with Steele on Nov. 1, 2016, after learning that he had unauthorized contacts with the media about his work as an FBI informant.
Steele and Fusion GPS, the firm that hired him, provided information from the dossier to numerous reporters during the 2016 campaign.
Congressional Republicans had pushed President Trump to declassify and release the Ohr 302s along with other documents related to the Russia probe. Trump said for months that he would declassify the documents, but on May 23, he outsourced declassification authority to Attorney General William Barr.
Republicans have hinted that the 302s contain information that could undercut Steele’s credibility, as well as the dossier’s.
Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz is investigating whether the FBI misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court in applications for spy warrants on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The bureau relied heavily on Steele’s reporting to obtain the wiretaps.
Ohr, whose wife worked as a contractor for Fusion GPS, has told Congress that Steele told him during one meeting that he was desperate to see Trump lose the 2016 election. Republicans say that the FBI did not disclose that fact in applications to wiretap Page. The FBI also did not disclose that the Clinton campaign and DNC had funded Steele’s dossier.
Ohr and Steele had known each other for years before the began meeting to discuss the Trump investigation. They first met on that topic on July 30, 2016 in Washington, D.C. After the meeting, Ohr briefed then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe about Steele’s work.
Steele met on Aug. 22, 2016 with Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS. Republican investigators have wondered why Steele and Simpson passed information to Ohr, when Steele already had a contact at the FBI. Steele gave some of his early dossier memos to FBI agent Michael Gaeta during a meeting in Rome on July 5, 2016.
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