Newly released text messages between Steele and Ohr before Comey's congressional testimony raise questions
In March, 2017, two days before former FBI Director James Comey testified to lawmakers that the bureau had an open counterintelligence investigation into President Trump’s campaign, former British spy Christopher Steele sent an urgent message to Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr hoping that “important firewalls will hold” when Comey testified.
The text message from Steele, who compiled the infamous unverified dossier on Trump, was sent on March 18, 2017, to Ohr and obtained by SaraACarter.com from a government source, familiar with the ongoing investigation.
Ohr was demoted twice by the Department of Justice for not disclosing that his wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS, the now-embattled research firm which paid Steele for the documents. Ohr has been deposed for questioning by the House Judiciary Committee and is expected to speak to lawmakers behind closed doors on Aug. 28.
In the text, Steele writes Ohr:
“Hi! Just wondering if you had any news? Obviously, we’re a bit apprehensive given scheduled appearance at Congress on Monday. Hoping that important firewalls will hold. Many thanks.”
Ohr writes back later that day, saying:
“Sorry, no new news. I believe my earlier information is still accurate. I will let you know immediately if there is any change.”
It is not certain, based on the limited communications obtained by Congress between the pair, what Ohr was referring to when he discussed “earlier information” that he delivered to Steele.
The exchange raises questions, according to a government source who asked, “What did Steele mean by important firewalls before Comey testimony? And what did Ohr mean by earlier information he provided?” The source noted that the ‘firewall’ statement seemed raise similar questions posed by lawmakers after (now-fired) FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok sent the infamous “insurance policy” texts to his paramour, former FBI Attorney Lisa Page.
Strzok, who was the lead investigator in the FBI’s investigation into Trump, was removed last August from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation after the DOJ’s Inspector General revealed thousands of text messages, including troves of anti-Trump text messages, between him and Page. Page, who was working as the general counsel for now-fired Deputy Attorney General Andrew McCabe, is no longer with the FBI.
Last week, SaraACarter.com published a law enforcement sensitive document written by Ohr that raised serious concerns among lawmakers regarding his possible contacts with FBI agents involved in the Russia-Trump bureau investigation.
Months before Comey’s testimony, on Nov. 21, 2016, the handwritten document by Ohr lists a possible meeting with Strzok, Page and Special Agent Joe Pientka (who along with Strzok interviewed former National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn). The document is one of several hundred documents obtained by lawmakers after long battles with the DOJ.
In the handwritten note, Ohr jots down, “no prosecution yet, pushing ahead on M case,” in reference to Paul Manafort, who is now facing years old charges on financial crimes and money laundering.
Ohr also wrote on the same memo, “may go back to Chris,” in reference to Christopher Steele.