Former UK spy Christopher Steele told then-DOJ #4 Bruce Ohr at a 2016 breakfast that the Kremlin had Donald Trump "over a barrel" thanks to "potentially explosive information" in the possession of Russian intelligence, reports AP, citing "multiple people" familiar with the encounter.
Ohr also learned that Trump campaign aide Carter Page had met with "higher-level" Russian officials than the aide had previously acknowledged, said the sources.
The previously unreported details of the July 30, 2016, breakfast with Christopher Steele, which Ohr described to lawmakers this week in a private interview, reveal an exchange of potentially explosive information about Trump between two men the president has relentlessly sought to discredit.
Among the things Ohr said he learned from Steele during the breakfast was that an unnamed former Russian intelligence official had said that Russian intelligence believed “they had Trump over a barrel,” according to people familiar with the meeting. It was not clear from Ohr’s interview whether Steele had been directly told that or had picked that up through his contacts, but the broader sentiment is echoed in Steele’s research dossier. -AP
Page responded to the AP report, tweeting: "BREAKING NEWS (a.k.a. what most sane reporters and other observers realized long ago): The Corrupt DOJ, co-conspirators in the DNC and their high-priced consultants correctly believed they had American democracy and the FISA Court over a barrel in 2016."
BREAKING NEWS (a.k.a. what most sane reporters and other observers realized long ago): The Corrupt DOJ, co-conspirators in the DNC and their high-priced consultants correctly believed they had American democracy and the FISA Court over a barrel in 2016.— Carter Page, Ph.D. (@carterwpage) August 31, 2018
According to AP, Ohr told lawmakers that could not verify the accuracy of Steele's information, however he considered the ex-UK spy to be a "reliable FBI informant who delivered credible and actionable intelligence."
That said, Ohr reportedly said he did not notify his superiors of the Steele breakfast - including Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.
Ohr also shed light on the DOJ's decision to demote him;
Ohr said he met in late December 2017 with two senior Justice Department officials, Scott Schools and James Crowell, who told him they were unhappy he had not proactively disclosed his meetings with Steele. They said he was being stripped of his associate deputy attorney post as part of a planned internal reorganization, people familiar with Ohr’s account say. -AP
According to Ohr, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his
boss Deputy, Rod Rosenstein, did not believe he could continue in his role as director of a drug grant-distribution program - the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force, as it entailed White House meetings and interactions.
The Steele-Ohr breakfast was just one of many interactions between the two - as they also communicated extensively about Russian Oligarch and Putin pal Oleg Deripaska as recently as February 2016, which included efforts to obtain a Visa for Deripaska to attend an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting int he US.
Steele's firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, was hired by a law firm working for Deripaska in 2012, marking the beginning of a relationship which extended at least throughout 2016 according to Solomon. Steele was tasked with researching a business rival of Deripaska, however Steele's work for the Russian billionaire evolved to the point where the former British spy was interfacing with the Obama administration on his behalf.
Deripaska is now banned from the United States as one of several Russians sanctioned in April in response to alleged 2016 election meddling.
Ohr, meanwhile, was demoted twice after the DOJ's Inspector General discovered that he lied about his involvement with opposition research firm Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson - who employed Steele. Ohr's CIA-linked wife, Nellie, was also employed by Fusion as part of the firm's anti-Trump efforts, and had ongoing communications with the ex-UK spy, Christopher Steele as well.
What's more, Ohr met with Deripaska according to Solomon.
By 2015, Steele’s work had left him friendly with one of Deripaska’s lawyers, according to my sources. And when Ohr, then the associate deputy attorney general and a longtime acquaintance of Steele, sought help getting to meet Deripaska, Steele obliged.
Deripaska, who frequently has appeared alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin at high-profile meetings, never really dealt with Steele, but he followed his lawyer’s recommendations and met with Ohr, my sources say. -The Hill
The September 2015 meeting between Ohr, Deripaska and several FBI agents in New York sought the Russian billionaire's assistance regarding organized crime investigations. That meeting was facilitated by Steele.
To recap: Bruce Ohr = the #4 official at the DOJ, met with a billionaire friend of Vladimir Putin, in a sit-down arranged by Christopher Steele. Steele and the DOJ, meanwhile, were accusing Donald Trump of collusion with Putin - while the Obama administration used Steele's dodgy dossier to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on Carter Page.
Dossier author Christopher Steele was likely working for Putin-linked Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska at the exact same time he was telling Hillary and the press that Trump’s alleged ties to Russia were treason. https://t.co/jEXY2NM5hg— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) August 9, 2018