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Early FBI interviews of DOJ contact with author of Trump dossier released

Posted: 9:46 PM, Aug 08, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-08 21:47:33-04
Early FBI interviews of DOJ contact with author of Trump dossier released

The Justice Department on Thursday night released 34 pages of memos from interviews with Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, who was in contact with the author of the unsubstantiated 2016 dossier about Donald Trump and his presidential campaign.

Judicial Watch, a right-leaning group that advocates for government transparency, obtained the documents through a federal public records lawsuit. The memos are called 302s, an internal FBI moniker for its notes of interviews. In all, 12 FBI memos about Ohr were released, from interviews in late 2016 though spring 2017.

The release is among the few internal documents available -- besides FBI memos about an interview with former national security adviser Michael Flynn and the Mueller report itself -- that show investigators' early approaches to the Russia investigation.

The memos -- and Judicial Watch's interpretation of them -- highlight how Ohr wanted to share information with the FBI and how the FBI was gathering leads on Russians and the Trump campaign in late 2016 and early 2017. The disclosure of the memos on Thursday largely retreads and aligns with what Ohr and others have told House committees.

Judicial Watch and others have criticized Ohr, calling him a government official with a conflict of interest in 2016 who wanted to help federal agencies probe Trump's campaign by funneling them damaging and unfounded opposition research.

He has maintained that sharing information with the FBI was part of his role.

"Part of my job, as I saw it, as having been for a long time responsible for organized crime at the department, was to try to gather as much information or introduce the FBI to possible sources of information, whatever ways to further the program's goal," Ohr told the House last year.

He has been a political target of Trump and Republicans for more than a year for his role as a middleman between the FBI and the dossier's author, Christopher Steele, and the Democratic Party-funded opposition research firm that commissioned it, Fusion GPS.

Previously, it was publicly known that Ohr had met with Steele and Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson and passed along information he had been provided with to the FBI, which was investigating Trump campaign contacts with Russians. Ohr's wife also worked for Fusion GPS as a contractor researching Russia.

Ohr was demoted in December 2017 from his position as an associate deputy attorney general in part because he had not told the department soon enough about his contacts with Steele, an ex-British intelligence official.