Editor's note: This op-ed is based on the author’s book “The Russia Hoax: The Illicit Scheme to Clear Hillary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump.”
Director James Comey knew the FBI was incorruptible. This is precisely why he seized control of the investigation of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s email practices covering her time as secretary of state, instead of allowing the FBI field office to conduct the probe.
By commandeering control of the investigation, Comey and his confederates could twist the facts and contort the law to dictate the outcome they desired. Clinton was the beneficiary of what FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe reportedly described as the “HQ special.”
The same is true of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. The very people who cleared Clinton of crimes – despite strong evidence that she broke the law – also assumed unfettered authority over the so-called “collusion” investigation to determine if Donald Trump’s presidential campaign worked with Russia to help Trump become president.
Bereft of probable cause and credible evidence, they nevertheless pursued Trump in a probe designed to damage his candidacy – and later to destroy his presidency in an effort to overturn the results of the 2016 presidential election.
It was not just Comey and his abettors at the FBI who conjured this illicit scheme. There were others outside the walls of the J. Edgar Hoover Building who were both instrumental and complicit.
Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee furnished the necessary funds. Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS acted as the facilitator. And ex-British spy Christopher Steele provided the fabricated “dossier” that served as a pretext for launching the investigation of Trump.
This brings us to the steps of the Justice Department and a high-ranking official who was essential to the scheme.
Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr bypassed his superiors at the Justice Department and worked covertly with Steele to exploit what became known as the “Steele dossier.” Sixty-three pages of texts, emails and handwritten notes show extensive contacts between Ohr and Steele both before and after the election.
Even after Steele was fired by the FBI for lying about his contacts with reporters, Ohr maintained intensive communications with Steele. The former British spy kept feeding his bogus information while simultaneously fretting to Ohr that his actions might be “exposed.”
It was a direct violation of FBI procedures to use a discredited source who had also broken an agreement with the FBI. To circumvent its rules, the bureau used Ohr as a conduit to continue its relationship with Steele.
It appears that Ohr would communicate with Steele, then endeavor to pass on the information to the FBI. Peter Strzok, the FBI’s lead investigator in the Trump-Russia probe, confirmed in his congressional testimony that “the FBI received documents and material from Mr. Ohr.”
Ohr knew that Steele was a nefarious and unreliable character. Records show that in September of 2016 Steele told Ohr that he was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.”
Given such an acute bias and motivation to lie, all contact with Steele should have been terminated and his “dossier” tossed in the garbage. However, both Ohr and the FBI were determined to use Steele and his unverified documents to damage Trump.
It is important to note that Steele was not only receiving money from the Clinton campaign. He was also on the payroll of the FBI from January 1, 2016 to November 1, 2016. Records obtained by Judicial Watch through a lawsuit reveal that he was paid eleven times when he met with the FBI.
Thus, it appears the FBI and Clinton’s campaign were working in concert to use a discredited source, who composed a fictitious document to harm her political opponent in the 2016 election.
Ironically, Clinton and her campaign are not being investigated for violating campaign laws. Her payments to a foreign source constituted a “thing of value” which is illegal under the Federal Election Campaign Act. In egregious cases like this one, it is a crime.
Juxtapose Clinton’s actions to the recent accusations against President Trump for personally funding payments that were perfectly legal under election laws. The disparity of treatment proves that equal justice under the law is a charade when partisan politics prevail.
Documents also show that Steele kept feeding the FBI allegations about Trump – even after Trump became president – all the way through May 15, 2017. Why? It is reasonable to conclude that the FBI was desperate to verify the unverified “dossier.” The material from Steele served as the basis for launching its Trump-Russia investigation and the foundation of its warrant to wiretap a Trump campaign associate.
Having violated FBI regulations by using unverified information in a warrant application and thereby committing a fraud on the court, the FBI was hoping to cure its wrongdoing belatedly. It’s called covering your tracks.
It is not surprising the FBI was never able to corroborate or substantiate anything contained in the “dossier.” In British court documents, Steele was forced to admit under oath that his claims against Trump were derived from “raw intelligence” based on “limited intelligence” – casting doubt on their veracity.
Steele further acknowledged that his accusations were “unverifiable.” In other words, the “dossier” was so poorly sourced that it was inherently untrustworthy. The contents were based on triple and quadruple hearsay from “anonymous” sources that probably never existed in the first place. It was a clever illusion.
In a veiled reference to the partisan motivations behind his report, Steele cautioned that “its contents must be critically viewed in light of the purpose for and circumstances in which the information was collected.”
This was a subtle way for Steele to confess that his work was not worth the paper on which it was written. In plain language, it was an untruthful political attack intended to vilify an opposing candidate – Donald Trump. Ohr and the FBI plainly knew this. They didn’t care.
Bruce Ohr was peddling the false Steele document while benefiting from it financially. His wife, Nellie Ohr, worked on the “dossier” as an employee of Fusion GPS and was getting paid to do so by the Clinton campaign. Money was going into the Ohrs’ bank account at the same time Bruce Ohr was using his position at the Justice Department to advance this false intelligence document.
Since his wife worked for Fusion GPS and contributed to the “dossier,” the relationship presented a disqualifying conflict of interest for Ohr. He was legally obligated under Justice Department regulations to recuse himself from any investigation in which his wife was involved.
Ohr did not seek a waiver of the conflict of interest. Instead, he omitted this information. Upon joining the Justice Department, he had signed an agreement stating that he would be fired for violating its rules. Inexplicably, he was not terminated, which only reinforces the impression that impropriety and concealment continued at the highest levels of the department.
Not only did Bruce Ohr fail to disclose that Fusion GPS was paying his wife, but it appears he did not fully report the nature of the work performed in financial disclosure reports as required under Justice Department regulations. Willfully filing a false government report constitutes a crime under federal law – specifically 8 U.S.C. (United States Code) 1001.
It is also against the law to use a public official for personal financial gain. This runs afoul of the federal bribery and gratuity statutes (18 U.S.C. 201-b and 18 U.S.C. 201-c) and is a violation of the honest services fraud statute (18 U.S. C. 1346). These are serious felonies. Yet, there appears to be no known investigation of Ohr by the Justice Department, where he is still employed.
Is it any wonder that President Trump continues to express impatience, disgust and frustration with Attorney General Jeff Sessions?
Sessions has failed to take aggressive action against those who appear to have broken the law with impunity. He ignored pleas from members of Congress to reopen the Clinton email case, including her destruction of documents under congressional subpoena.
There is no investigation of Clinton’s payments to a foreigner who was using Russian sources for the “dossier”. The actions of Comey, McCabe, Strzok and others should have been presented to a grand jury. Abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to gain wiretap warrants should have been pursued.
Instead, of doing these things, Sessions spent months obstructing Congress by refusing to produce documents in response to lawful subpoenas.
Sessions’ only real achievement as attorney general has been to alienate his boss by his actions and inactions. President Trump was right when he said that choosing Sessions as attorney general was one of the “worst” decision he made.
Sessions should take the hint. When you have lost the confidence and trust of the president, it is time to resign. In the alternative, President Trump should finally accept the letter of resignation that his attorney general submitted in May of last year. There was no time limit on the letter. It can be accepted at the president’s pleasure.
If not now, then Sessions should go after the midterm elections. Expect to see Sessions standing outside the Justice Department with a box of his office tchotchkes. I’m betting it does not include the Scales of Justice.