Judicial Watch announced today it received through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit 13 pages out of 42 responsive pages of communications between former FBI official Peter Strzok and Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr.
The DOJ previously claimed it could not find those documents, in response to an April 2019 FOIA lawsuit filed after submitting July 2018 FOIA requests to the DOJ and the FBI. The FBI failed to respond, while the Justice Department claimed to find no records of communications between Strzok and Ohr (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:19-cv-01082)).
The lawsuit seeks:
All records of communications between FBI official Peter Strzok and Bruce Ohr, in either his role as Associate Deputy Attorney General or Director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), including but not limited to emails (whether on .gov or non-.gov email accounts, and whether using their real names or aliases), text messages, encrypted app messages and/or instant chats.
In the lawsuit, Judicial Watch challenged the DOJ’s extraordinary claim that there were no records of communications between Strzok and Ohr in light of the preeminent role both individuals played in the anti-Trump collusion investigation. In addition, Ohr himself testified before Congress that he did, in fact, meet and communicate with Strzok.
The documents show contact between Ohr and Strzok in the weeks after the 2016 presidential election, during the presidential transition, and in the days following President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page arranges a November 21, 2016, meeting from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at FBI headquarters. “Required attendees” include Ohr, Strzok, and FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Jonathan Moffa.
On November 29, 2016, Ohr attempts to arrange a meeting between Strzok, Page, himself, and Deputy Assistant Attorney General (Criminal Division) Bruce Swartz.
Ohr writes to Strzok and Page under the subject Meeting with Bruce Swartz: “Thanks again for taking the time to chat today. As I mentioned, I would like to set up a short meeting for us with Bruce Swartz. Would next Monday at 5:30 p.m. work? Also, is there any chance you guys could come over to our building?”
Page responds: “Unfortunately, Pete is briefing HPSCI [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] from 5-6:30 on Monday. Just about any other time that day would work. And we’re happy to come to you (especially because Bruce S. always has good snacks…)” [smile emoticon]
Ohr responds to Page: “No problem – is 6:30 (or later) that day too late? Otherwise, we may be into the next week. I will ensure the snacks are up to snuff!”
Page writes to Ohr at 5:46 p.m.: “Unfortunately, it is. Have a flight later that night. Sorry about that.”
Ohr responds at 6:32 p.m.: “Got it. I’ll find a few dates/times for the week after and shoot them to you.”
A meeting with importance classified as “high” is scheduled for December 5, 2016. Strzok, Ohr and Swartz are scheduled to meet from 5:30 to 6 p.m. at Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) 2213, and later is canceled.
On January 4, 2017, a Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) official in the Office of Special Measures [a unit within FinCEN set up to sanction foreign and domestic financial institutions] forwards to Ohr an unclassified but fully redacted FinCEN document, which Ohr then forwards to Strzok on February 1, 2017.
Ohr writes to Strzok: “Pete – As we discussed. I will forward the classified document as well, as well as one more unclassified document.”
January 30, 2017, FinCEN sent protected information and its password to [Redacted].
On February 1, 2017, at 2:11 pm Lisa Holtyn, Ohr’s assistant, sends to members of Bruce Ohr’s former team at Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) password-protected information from FinCEN, saying “I’ll send the password separately.” Minutes later, she sends the same email to Ohr. Seconds after that, Ohr forwards the email to Strzok, followed by the password.
“Ohr and Strzok clearly were working regularly with each other during the time the illicit Spygate operation heated up against President Trump,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton argues. “It speaks volumes that Judicial Watch was forced to drag the DOJ and FBI into court in order to force the agency to admit to documents they’ve obviously had all along.”
In March 2019 the DOJ released heavily redacted records that reveal Ohr remained in regular contact with former British spy and Fusion GPS contractor Christopher Steele after Steele was terminated by the FBI in November 2016 for revealing to the media his position as an FBI confidential informant.
In June 2019, DOJ documents were made public showing the removal of Ohr from the position of Associate Attorney General in 2017; his transfer from Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force to International Affairs in 2018; and that Ohr received a total of $42,520 in performance bonuses during the Trump/Russia investigation. Ohr’s bonus nearly doubled from $14,520 (received in November 2015) to $28,000 in November 2016.
In August 2019, Judicial Watch uncovered 34 pages of “302” report material from FBI interviews with Ohr, showing that in November 2016, Ohr said that “reporting on Trump’s ties to Russia were going to the Clinton Campaign” and “Jon Winer at the U.S. State Department and the FBI.” The documents also showed that Ohr knew that Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson and others were “talking to Victoria Nuland at the U.S. State Department.”