Russia probe figure Bruce Ohr retired from DOJ as disciplinary review decision loomed, spokeswoman says

Ohr was demoted in 2017 following the revelation of his meetings with dossier author Christopher Steele

Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department official demoted in 2017 following the revelation of his meetings with anti-Trump dossier figure Christopher Steele, retired in late September while awaiting a "final decision on a disciplinary review," a department spokeswoman told Fox News on Wednesday.

Fox News first reported that Ohr was demoted from his senior position at the Justice Department following the revelation of his meetings with ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, of which his superiors at the DOJ were unaware.

“Bruce Ohr retired from the Department of Justice on Sept. 30, 2020. As such, he is no longer an employee of the department,” Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement. “Mr. Ohr retired after his counsel was informed that a final decision on a disciplinary review being conducted by department senior career officials was imminent.”

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Ohr was a key contact inside the Justice Department for Steele, who authored an anti-Trump dossier for research firm Fusion GPS as opposition research for Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign. Ohr's wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS at the time.

That dossier, which remains unverified, was instrumental in obtaining the FISA warrant for former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, according to a report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

A transcript of a closed-door meeting Nellie Ohr had with the House Judiciary Committee in 2019 revealed that she had worked extensively on opposition research for Clinton's campaign, although she largely did not work on the dossier itself.

The transcript also confirmed that Bruce and Nellie Ohr met with Steele at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., the day before the FBI launched its investigation into the Trump campaign, known as Crossfire Hurricane.

Attorney General Bill Barr, last year, tapped U.S. Attorney from Connecticut John Durham to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, from the FBI's launching of Crossfire Hurricane in the summer of 2016 through the appointment of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller in May 2017. 

Durham’s investigation has been slowed by the coronavirus pandemic, but that has not blunted the level of anticipation from President Trump, his Republican allies on Capitol Hill and his supporters, some of whom have called for findings to be released before November's presidential election.

The investigation has produced one criminal charge so far, against former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who was accused of altering an email related to the surveillance of Page. But that prosecution did not allege a broader conspiracy within the FBI, and the conduct it involved had largely been laid out in a Justice Department inspector general report from last December.

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It is not clear if Durham will be able to conclude his work before the election, though Barr has not ruled out the possibility of additional criminal charges.

In July, though, Fox News reported that Durham could wait to reveal his findings or initiate further prosecutions until after the 2020 presidential election.

Two sources familiar with Durham’s investigation told Fox News at the time that Durham was working expeditiously to try to finish the probe before Labor Day – which he did not – but that several lines of the investigation had not yet been completed.

“He believes it’s critical to do them,” one source said at the time. “He is feeling more pressure to get this done and wrapped up.”

The source also told Fox News that Durham “does not want this to be viewed political,” and the closer it gets to November, Durham could “punt it to after the election.”