House Republican investigators believe that newly uncovered emails to Justice Department officials from the wife of a high-ranking DOJ prosecutor in 2016 could shed light on how the "Trump-Russia collusion" narrative gained credence among U.S. intelligence circles — and may contain evidence of false testimony and serious conflicts of interest.
Through a Freedom of Information Act request, conservative government watchdog Judicial Watch has obtained 339 pages of emails — including from Nellie Ohr to her husband, high-ranking DOJ official Bruce Ohr, and three other DOJ prosecutors — connected to the "collusion" claims against Trump and his campaign that Special Counsel Robert Mueller ultimately found no evidence to support.
Nellie Ohr sent those emails while she was working for the firm hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to produce the opposition research on Donald Trump in 2016 that resulted in the unverified and salacious anti-Trump dossier compiled by Christopher Steele which sparked the debunked "collusion" accusations.
In a report for The Hill published Wednesday, John Solomon explains how Nellie Ohr's communication with four DOJ officials "raise the prospect that Hillary Clinton-funded opposition research was being funneled into the Justice Department during the 2016 election through a back-door marital channel," raising "questions of both conflict of interest and possible false testimony."
The emails "clearly show that Ohr sent reams of open-source intelligence to her husband, Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, and on some occasions to at least three DOJ prosecutors: Lisa Holtyn, Ivana Nizich and Joseph Wheatley," writes Solomon. "The contents tracked corruption developments in Russia and Ukraine, including intelligence affecting Russian figures she told Congress she had tried to connect to Trump or Manafort. ... Other emails that Nellie Ohr forwarded to her husband and the other DOJ officials contained links to open-source information, such as news articles and academic research, that would later surface as evidence of alleged collusion between Trump and Russia."
Solomon notes that Republican investigators in the House believe that the content and timing of the emails may be key to understanding how the collusion narrative gained "such credence inside DOJ and intelligence circles despite its overtly political origins."
Solomon also points to evidence in the emails that suggests that Nellie Ohr was not forthright in her claim to House lawyers during her deposition in 2018 that she didn't discuss her Trump opposition research for Fusion GPS with anyone except her husband "prior to fall 2016." Solomon reports (formatting adjusted):
...the DOJ emails show that Nellie Ohr frequently forwarded open-source research on Russian organized crime figures, Trump, Manafort and developments in Ukraine with implications for the Trump campaign. For instance, she directly alerted her husband and two DOJ prosecutors specializing in international crime on May 30, 2016, to the discovery of “black ledger” documents in Ukraine. “Reported Trove of documents on Ukrainian Party of Regions’ Black Cashbox,” Nellie Ohr wrote her husband, Holtyn and Wheatley, attaching a news article on the announcement of the Ukrainian release of the documents.
One of the key House Republicans, Rep. Mark Meadows, told Solomon, "If Ms. Ohr used her time at the opposition research firm to place information directly in the hands of investigators, it would be a severe conflict of interest. Contrary to Ms. Ohr’s congressional testimony, it appears that she funneled research gathered during her time at Fusion GPS directly to the DOJ. A draft of a criminal referral for giving false testimony to Congress is currently being reviewed."
Wednesday night, House Republicans filed the criminal referral against Nellie Ohr for potentially giving false testimony.