National Security , Newsline

Former CIA Contractor Nellie Ohr Provided Husband at DOJ With Russia Research

Posted on Thursday, March 21, 2019
by Outside Contributor
CIA Russia Research

Testimony reveals Ohr sought job at Fusion GPS; emails reveal she frequently sent Russia research to Bruce Ohr and other DOJ officials

Two key players in the FBI’s investigation of Donald Trump were husband and wife Bruce and Nellie Ohr.

At the time, Bruce Ohr was the highest-ranking career official at the Department of Justice (DOJ), and Nellie Ohr worked for Fusion GPS—the firm hired by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to produce the so-called “Steele dossier” on Donald Trump.

In congressional testimonies reviewed by The Epoch Times, both Bruce and Nellie Ohr testified separately to congressional investigators last year that they had minimal contact with each other about their work, which could have posed an inherent conflict of interest.

Newly released documents and emails obtained by Judicial Watch, however, show that Nellie emailed Bruce dozens of times about Russia-related topics between October 2015 and September 2016. Nellie also routinely included several other DOJ officials in these communications.

The emails also indicate that both Nellie and Bruce were in contact with Nellie’s boss, Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson.

Russia-Related Emails

Nellie Ohr told congressional investigators in her Oct. 19, 2018, closed-door testimony, that part of her work for Fusion GPS was to research the Trump 2016 presidential campaign, including campaign associate Carter Page, early campaign supporter Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and campaign manager Paul Manafort, as well as Trump’s family members, including some of his children.

In court documents filed on Dec. 12, 2017, Simpson referred to Nellie Ohr as a “former government official expert” who was hired “to help our company with its research and analysis of Mr. Trump.”

Prior to her work for Fusion GPS, Nellie had worked as an independent contractor for the CIA for as long as six years.

Email communications between her and her husband show that she routinely sent Bruce articles on Russia—most carrying a similarly negative slant.

The emails continued throughout the duration of Nellie’s employment with Fusion GPS and usually contained a brief, often one-line comment from Nellie, such as the following shown on page 319 of the Judicial Watch release:

“Lesin’s death (This looks ‘fishy’…) See the 6 November notes.”

The responses Nellie received were minimal, when she received one at all, but she continued to forward emails to Bruce, along with several other DOJ officials, during her employment at Fusion GPS. The result was a steady stream of negative articles and brief commentaries on Russia being fed to the DOJ through her husband that almost certainly was the result of her work for Fusion GPS.

Bruce, however, had previously testified that he and Nellie typically didn’t discuss details of their work with each other.

Ms. Hariharan: “When she works on sensitive projects, does she discuss those details with you?”

Bruce Ohr: “Generally, no.”

Ms. Hariharan: “And on the flip side, have you discussed details of your cases with her?”

Mr. Ohr: “No.”

Nellie also provided her husband with a USB stick containing all her research from her time at Fusion GPS to pass to the FBI in late 2016 after she officially left the firm in September 2016.

Nellie Ohr Approached Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson

In her testimony, Nellie Ohr described her work as online, open-source efforts that utilized “Russian sources, media, social media, government, you know, business registers, legal databases, all kinds of things.” Ohr said that she would “write occasional reports based on the open source research that I described about Donald Trump’s relationships with various people in Russia.”

The work Nellie conducted for Fusion GPS matched the same skill set used when she worked for the CIA’s Open Source Works, which is a division within the agency that uses open-source information to produce intelligence products.

Notably, she was hired by Fusion GPS approximately eight months before the firm hired former British MI6 spy Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier.

When asked how she came to be hired by Fusion GPS and who had approached her, Nellie responded, “Nobody approached me,” telling investigators that she had initiated contact and approached Fusion GPS after reading an article on Simpson:

Nellie Ohr: “I believe it was in September of 2015 that I read an article in the paper that mentioned Glenn Simpson. And I remembered because he had been a Wall Street Journal reporter working on things like Russian crime and corruption, so I recognized the name. I was underemployed at that time and I was looking for opportunities.”

Mr. Jordan: “So you called him up?”

Ms. Ohr: “I sent an email.”

A search for Simpson’s whereabouts during that period of time shows that he was in the news in August 2016 over the work his company conducted for Planned Parenthood, following a controversy involving undercover videos filmed by the California-based Center for Medical Progress. Simpson had claimed that the editing of the videos rendered them unreliable for any official inquiry.

Nellie Ohr said that following her email, Simpson told her to “come in and we’ll meet.” When questioned as to how well she knew Simpson prior to this meeting, Ohr responded that she had been at a conference that Simpson attended, but indicated that she had never met him personally:

“I don’t recall directly talking with him at that conference, and I don’t know whether he knew who, you know, who I was other than the fact that I attended that conference.”

In her response, Nellie was referring to a June 2010 conference organized by the National Institute of Justice where Nellie, in her capacity as a researcher for the CIA’s Open Source Works, was listed as a participant.

The conference was a two-day interactive event with just 39 participants. Bruce Ohr and Simpson, who at the time was a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, were facilitators at the event. It is unlikely Nellie Ohr and Simpson wouldn’t have had any interactions during this two-day, small-scale conference.

Another participant at the conference was DOJ official Lisa Holtyn, who was listed as a senior intelligence adviser at the DOJ’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section Criminal Division.

Notably, Holtyn is the same DOJ official Nellie included on many of her emails to Bruce that contained her Russia-related research.

Holtyn previously played a role in the DOJ’s handling of Operation Fast and Furious, as documented in a July 18, 2011, email she sent titled “TOC Strategy QAs on Operation Fast and Furious.”

“How would you advise that we respond to the first proposed question on Op Fast and Furious? FYI, there are numerous references throughout the strategy to weapons and firearms trafficking,” the email read.

Ties Between Simpson and the Ohrs

Nellie Ohr acknowledged in her testimony that Simpson must have been aware of her prior work for the CIA, given that they had both participated in the same conference.

Mr. Jordan: “Do you have any knowledge that your experience as a contractor for various Federal agencies was marketed to Simpson ahead of your employment?”

Ms. Ohr: “I gave them a resume.”

Mr. Jordan: “So he knew about that. But do you think they — any knowledge that he knew about even prior to you handing him or submitting your resume to him?”

Ms. Ohr: “Well, he knew that — we had been at a conference together, so — and at the time of the conference, my name was listed as open — as working for open-source work.”

Nellie Ohr also testified that Simpson was aware when he hired her that her husband worked at the DOJ.

Rep. Jordan: “And did he know at the time that he hired you that your husband worked for the Department of Justice?”

Ms. Ohr: “Yes.”

But Simpson was not just aware of her husband and his position; the two men were also acquainted.

Rep. Jordan: “Was Glenn Simpson acquainted with your husband, Bruce? Did they have a friendship or relationship prior to you going to work for Fusion?”

Ms. Ohr: “They were acquainted, yes.”

Bruce Ohr, in his own testimony before congressional investigators on Aug. 28, 2018, confirmed that he was acquainted with both Simpson and Steele:

“In the course of this many years, I met with both — I had become acquainted with both Chris Steele, Glenn Simpson, and other people.  And from time to time, these people would give me information about Russian oligarchs and other Russian organized crime figures, and then I would pass that to the FBI, or introduce people to the FBI so that they could continue.”

He also said that Nellie “knew Glenn Simpson for several years as well, because he was interested in Russian organized crime.”

“My wife was a Russia analyst. And so I think they met,” he said.

“I’ve seen Glenn Simpson at various — on various occasions over the years, and I believe my wife has as well.”

Bruce, however, appeared particularly cautious regarding his personal knowledge of how his wife came to be employed by Fusion GPS: “I don’t remember who made the contact, whether she spoke with Glenn Simpson directly or whether there was another party or someone else involved. I just know it wasn’t me.” Bruce also claimed to have no idea how much Nellie was paid for her work with Fusion.

Bruce Ohr’s Knowledge About His Wife’s Work

Bruce and Nellie Ohr both met with Christopher Steele at a breakfast meeting in Washington on July 30, 2016. Also present at the meeting was another undisclosed, younger man, whom Nellie said had a British accent.

The meeting proved to be pivotal, as it marked the beginning of Bruce’s role as a backchannel from Steele to the FBI, which he would continue to do even after the FBI formally terminated its relationship with Steele over unauthorized contacts with the media.

Bruce noted in his testimony that following the meeting, he “certainly tried to keep separate what I was getting from Chris Steele and from Glenn Simpson from any conversations with my wife.”

Bruce said he was aware of his wife’s work peripherally, telling investigators: “She was a Russia analyst, and she would research people and companies that Fusion GPS asked her to look into.  She would do her research on the internet, open sources; and she would report her findings to Fusion GPS.”

Bruce also acknowledged that “[at] some point, I became aware that some of the people she was invest—she was researching were some of the same people that I had heard about from Chris Steele and Glenn Simpson.”

Marital privilege was invoked during both testimonies—but far more often in Nellie’s testimony than in Bruce’s—to avoid answering questions about what the two knew about each other’s work.

During one of the few times when marital privilege was not invoked, Nellie stated: “I don’t recall telling him the content of what I was researching, but I’m not sure about that. The fact that I was doing work for GPS, clearly, he was aware of that.”

Nellie’s Involvement in Bruce’s DOJ Work

Email communications reveal Nellie Ohr played an active part in her husband’s career, helping to host two high-profile delegations during a period of less than two months.

One dinner involved a visit by European analysts specializing in Russian organized crime, while the other involved a high-profile British delegation and took place while she was working for Fusion GPS.

Email records show that the Ohrs hosted the Russia analysts for a dinner at their home on April 25, 2016.

At the time, Bruce Ohr was the head of the DOJ’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force Section (OCDETF). Among those meeting with the delegation from Europe were Ivana Nizich and Joe Wheatley, then both trial attorneys in the DOJ’s Organized Crime and Gang Section. Nizich had previously worked for Bruce.

A March 7, 2016, email sent by Stefan Bress, a first secretary at the German Embassy, to Bruce Ohr and Lisa Holtyn showed the proposed agenda for the visit:

  • “Stability of the Putin regime” before the Duma elections
  • Impact of Russian influence operations in Europe (“PsyOps/InfoWar”)
  • Situation of Eurasian organized crime (how organized crime is used for politics within Russia and abroad)

Although no further details of the dinner are available, both Nizich and Wheatley would continue to appear in the communications of both Nellie and Bruce.

On March 23, 2016, Lisa Holtyn—the DOJ official who had been copied in on most of Nellie’s Russia-related emails that were sent to Bruce at the DOJ—suddenly reached out to Bruce, asking for Nellie’s help researching an unknown matter.

Holtyn was asking for Nellie’s help on behalf of Nizich and Wheatley:

“She and Joe Wheatley are working on one of the [redacted] and trying to get some general background info that may be helpful to them. I told her Nellie might be a great resource. … Do you think she would be comfortable with talking to them, and would it present any conflict of interest issues for her or for you?”

Bruce forwarded Holtyn’s email to Nellie, saying: “Hi honey! I trust you are okay with this?” Nellie responded almost immediately with “Sure!”

Notably, starting on May 3, 2016, Nellie began to include both Nizich and Wheatley in the emails containing articles and notes on Russia that she had previously been sending to Bruce and Lisa Holtyn.

The first email that Nellie included them on contained a lengthy set of notes and articles on Russia that had been compiled by Wayne Allensworth, who previously worked as a Russia analyst at the Foreign Broadcast Information Service—the predecessor to the government’s open-source resource center, Open Source Enterprise, which is managed by the CIA.

The second dinner Nellie helped to host involved a high-ranking British official.

A May 6 email sent by Denise Turcotte to Bruce Ohr references the June 5 dinner with Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions (DPP) in charge of the Crown Prosecution Service.

Saunders’s tenure as DPP was marked by ongoing scandals, including a series of collapsed rape trials, in which individuals had been “wrongly imprisoned as a result of disclosure failings,” according to a July 20, 2018, Guardian article. She was the first-ever head of the Crown Prosecution Service not to receive a knight- or damehood at the end of their service.

Nellie was forwarded Turcotte’s email, which said, “DPP and her party would be delighted to have dinner at your home,” by Bruce, with a short note that said, “The British are coming!” Nellie responded to Bruce, “Cool, thanks!”

Both Ohrs Were in Contact With Simpson

Nellie Ohr testified that she and her husband shared a personal email account. The email address appears to have been the primary account used by Nellie, as many of the emails she sent to Bruce Ohr’s official DOJ email account originated from their shared account.

On Dec. 11, 2016, Glenn Simpson sent an email to the shared account that contained an article from ThinkProgress about the NRA’s ties to a Russian gun rights group run by Maria Butina and her boss, Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of the Russian central bank.

Approximately 50 minutes later, someone, likely Nellie, responded to Simpson with “Thank you!”

Nellie, though evasive, acknowledged during her testimony that it may have been her who responded to Simpson:

Rep. Meadows: “So you could have been exchanging back and forth with the Think Progress article?”

Ms. Ohr: “It could have been.”

The following day, Dec. 12, 2016, Simpson emailed again—using the existing email thread from the previous day—with the short message “Please ring if you can.”

Six minutes later, Nellie forwarded the Simpson email to Bruce, saying, “I assume Glenn means you not me.”

How did Nellie know the email from Simpson was intended for her husband? The email account was used primarily by her and she’d previously responded to an earlier email within the same email chain.

Two days prior, on Dec. 10, 2016, Bruce Ohr had met with Simpson in person, according to Bruce’s testimony. At this meeting, Simpson provided him with additional information regarding contacts with the Trump campaign. Simpson also provided him with a memory stick to pass on to the FBI.

Mr. Ohr: “He provided me with a memory stick, and he provided additional information regarding the contacts between the Russians and the Trump campaign.”

Bruce testified that he gave Simpson’s memory stick, along with one he received from his wife, to FBI agent Joseph Pientka, who had been assigned as his handler at the time.

If Nellie was aware of Bruce’s Dec. 10 meeting with Simpson, it’s possible she assumed the email request for a phone call was intended for her husband. It still raises the question of why Nellie, in that case, was aware of her husband’s meetings with Simpson.

When questioned about the email, and how she intuitively understood Simpson’s request to call was intended for Bruce, Nellie responded evasively. But, unlike during her husband’s testimony, congressional investigators kept pressing the matter:

Rep. Meadows: “But you get an email that says … please call me, and you say, This must be for you, referring to your husband. How would you know?”

Ms. Ohr: “Because I couldn’t think of a reason that he would need me to talk to him because I had finished working for him.”

At one point, Nellie claimed she was “very busy on a new job” and told investigators that “my work for them was done.” As the questioning continued, Nellie once again invoked marital privilege, telling Meadows, “As I understand, any communications between my husband and myself are privileged.”

As time in her interview session ran out, Nellie stuck to her basic answer:

Ms. Ohr: “I just didn’t see a reason why he would want to talk to me on the phone.”

Share this article:
Notify of
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
5 years ago

Prosecute , end this witch hunt & sue the DNC & allies.

5 years ago

What the hell is it going to take the GOP leaders to get on the ball, or have some balls, and start arresting all these criminals???? This crap has gone on way too long and each day the demorats come out with something new. As far as I know when someone commits a crime they are prosecuted, however today they walk free to carry on like they did nothing!!! I have never been so frustrated and angry in my life with how things are going in our country right now. It’s like these demorats suffer a severe incurable disease!!!!!

Frank S.
Frank S.
5 years ago

There is no doubt in my mind that the real story here is the deep state embedded in the DoJ (and FBI). Too bad the country re-installed Pelosi and a majority Democrat House. If it had been the other way around, perhaps Mark Meadows (and a few other good Republicans in the House) could finally get to the bottom of this. I was taught that if something looks, smells, feels and tastes like crap, that it IS crap. Transparency and accountability may day hold these people accountable. But that would take responsible politicians and a responsible media. I am not optimistic.

5 years ago

Just think what would happen if they put just 1/10th the effort into investigating the Obama administration as they have with Trump!

Even with their untiring attempts to ignore, obfuscate and outright cover-up their dirty work. There was (and still is) so much corruption and illegal activities with the Obama administration that it is still spilling out over the dam today.

Todd Wingard Taylor
Todd Wingard Taylor
5 years ago

The hammer needs to drop! It is time for someone to go to jail! This is clearly criminal activity.

5 years ago

What a tangled web the deep state and anti-Trumpers have weaved. This article, only gives us a
look, at one little piece of this twisted puzzle. The cover needs to be pulled back and all the pieces
reveled. The Republicans need to get off their dead a__es, and demand accountability and
prosecution of all involved

Press ONE for English
Press ONE for English
5 years ago

As disgusting as all of this is, the thing I find most surprising, something none of the other, completely correct commenters have mentioned, is the apparent reliance on “open source” data. We all know that everything on the internet is true, right? I get it, someone has to scour the internet so that, on the off chance someone posts valuable information it can be captured. But how likely is it that someone in-the-know would post sensitive data for all to see? So as I see it the potential gain is extremely low especially when compared to the risk that produces the sort of issues we are seeing here. This whole Steele “report” shows how easy it is to create an entire scenario out of thin air, then propagate it and, by so doing create some ring of truth. Face it, using internet “data” you can create and amply support whatever sort of narrative you choose.

This idiocy has to stop and we need to start getting serious about investigating the “investigators” and, when appropriate, throwing ’em in a cell or maybe, if the situation warrants it, before a firing squad.

5 years ago

demorats incharge only Trump gets investigated demorats walk

5 years ago

I want an investigation now on the whole shebang including the Clintons! And I want just republicans on this investigation just like only democraps were on the criminal Mueller investigation.

Paul W
Paul W
5 years ago

The whole Mueller scam is stage 3 of the left’s anti-Trump strategy. It’s all designed to keep this President back-pedaling and keep attention off of all the crimes of Clinton, the DOJ and the FBI. It’s not working. The light is shining and the roaches are scattering.

Big Al
Big Al
5 years ago

Some of us thought we voted in a law & order President. Granted, we knew there existed a situation where Members of Congress were going to cover one another regardless of Party affiliation, but at some point real ethics and oaths have to be honored.

5 years ago

Charge them both with treason against the USA and execute both of them tomorrow! Is that to soon? Well then, maybe Monday!

5 years ago

These two are like that treasonous couple that gave away secrets to the Russians. They were executed and these two should be as well.

5 years ago

Declassify everything for everyone to read without any blackouts. That would take care of everything. No more denials. No more lies. Everyone would know what was going on, even the ignorant. All questions answered.

5 years ago

It pains me to say this, but if the new AG, Barr, doesn’t go after these people, I’m going to lose a lot of faith in our judicial system. My respect for the federal law enforcement (FBI) has taken a deep hit, the best thing would be to disband the organization and start new.

Phyllis Poole
Phyllis Poole
5 years ago

Remember it took tax evasion to put Al Capone. Behind bars – not the heinous crimes
He did. !!
I wonder if our good president knew just how deep the swamp really is when he vowed to drain it!
Now they probably pay their taxes to avoid that! And they have paid all the judicial system off or appointed the ones on their side to cover that angle. Where else can we go?

There is a GOD. And they can’t help themselves there! Earthly life is one thing but we have a soul that will live forever —-somewhere else – and they have no voice there We might not see their punishment and that’s ok with me but I trust our God.
We can pray even for them that they will recant. And we should because whoever acts against their fellow man also acts against God. I can’t help but feel sorry for them for
they have no idea what hell is like ! I know I don’t want to end up there. I’m working for heaven!!!

5 years ago

The time has come to prosecute those who have committed these so called “white collar” crimes. Clinton, Comey, Ohr, etc. This is where the focus should be.

An older blonde women laughing in the kitchen with a grey haired man.
AMAC’s Medicare Advisory Service
The knowledge, guidance, and choices of coverage you’re looking for. The exceptional service you deserve.
The AMAC App on 3 different iPhone
Download the AMAC App
The AMAC App is the place to go for insightful news wherever you are and whenever you want.
Biden Admin’s War on Women
Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at the Prescott Valley Event Center in Prescott Valley, Arizona.

Stay informed! Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter.

"*" indicates required fields

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

Subscribe to AMAC Daily News and Games