On Monday, 8/5/17, during an appearance on the Sean Hannity Show, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes put the world on notice to pay close attention to disgraced Department of Justice attorney Bruce Ohr, formerly the #4 in the DoJ chain of command, reporting to Sally Yates: “Bruce Ohr is going to become more and more important in this investigation ..." Since then, thanks to the reporting of John Solomon, Byron York, and Sara Carter, we've had a glimpse of a few emails in an extensive e-correspondence between Ohr and the British ex-spook and "dossier" author, Christopher Steele. Included in those emails are tantalizing references to telephone calls and face to face meetings, the contents of which we can only guess at.
Now, President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, in an appearance on the Sean Hannity Show, has fired a clear warning shot across the bow of Special Prosecutor (SC) Robert Mueller. Giuliani warned that Mueller's case against the President
"isn’t going to fizzle. It's going to blow up on them. ... there's a lot more to what they [the Mueller team] did that nobody knows about yet. A lot more to the obstruction of justice, to the collusion, to the fake dossier." And Giuliani added: "... when this plays out over the next year or two, it's not going to be about President Trump. ... It’s going to be about all the things they [the Mueller team] did." ... It’s a different kind of Watergate. It’s on the side of the investigator."
With Paul Sperry stating that President Trump is about to begin declassifying some key documents, we may soon have a better picture of what's been going on in the Mueller "probe." But we may already be getting a preview, based on the handful of Steele/Ohr emails that we've already seen. Let's focus on some of those emails beginning immediately before the appointment of Mueller as Special Counsel, on 5/17/17. (In what follows, I've preserved the original spelling and punctuation as they appear in the emails.)
The relevant emails begin in early May of 2017 and initially concern arrangements for telephone communications (Steele is emailing from London, to Ohr in Washington, DC). With the firing of James Comey on 5/9/17, however, the emails take on a clear sense of urgency. In what follows, it's important to bear in mind a key fact regarding Ohr's position that has just recently come to light: in a private letter to Congress DAG Rod Rosenstein--confronted with these Steele/Ohr emails--declared he was unaware of Ohr’s activities with Steele. Ohr was “not assigned to the Russia investigation and he was not in the chain of command,” Rosenstein wrote. “Any involvement Mr. Ohr had in this matter was without my knowledge.” In other words, Ohr's activities could only have been part of an unauthorized campaign by government officials against the President of the United States.
With that in mind, we find Steele reaching out to Ohr, and Ohr responding promptly:
5/9/17 Steele: "B. obviously it's chaotic over there with you right now but we should probably talk again over the next couple of days ..."
The proposed conversation took place the very next day: 5/10/17. We can surmise that the discussion wasn't mere gossip about the Comey firing. Rather, it had to do with Steele once more getting involved in anti-Trump "research" and "operations", because in a follow up email we read:
5/15/17 Steele: "Having now consulted with my wife and business partner about the question we discussed on Saturday, I'm pleased to say yes, we should go ahead with it."
As will become clear, Steele is not talking about engaging in some course of action involving his wife and business partner. Rather, he has cleared the course of action that he discussed with Ohr and is letting Ohr know that his wife and business partner are OK with his involvment. So, "we [Steele and Ohr] should go ahead with it."
As it turns out, Ohr has also been discussing the planned course of action with people in Washington, and he quickly lets Steele know that he will let "them" know that Steele is on board. It also seems likely that Ohr, #4 at DoJ, may have a heads up about the forthcoming appointment of a Special Counsel.
5/15/17 1:31pm Ohr: "Thanks. I will let them know and we will follow up."
5/15/17 2:42pm Ohr: "I chatted with my colleagues and can give you an update ..."
Who are Ohr's "colleagues?" We can only speculate, but common sense dictates that they would almost certainly be officials within the DoJ and FBI. What is the course of action that they're embarking on? Here we can be a bit more certain, because after a month or more of waiting Steele reaches out to Ohr for a status report on "reengagement." As becomes clear, "reengagement" refers to two things: getting Steele back in contact with the FBI (Steele had been terminated as a source for blabbing to reporters about his connection to the FBI) but also offering his services to the Mueller team!
6/22/17: Steele: "is there any news on reengagement yet? Anything we could do to help from this end?" Ohr: "I will inquire and let you know."
6/24/17: Ohr: "Still in process. My colleagues have made the request, but they will inquire again."
Clearly Steele is offering his services, through Ohr, to Mueller and Ohr and his "colleagues" have forwarded that offer. That's pretty mind blowing, on the face of it--not just Steele's offer but Ohr's willingness to become involved with the discredited dossier game. Note, too, that Ohr is involving himself in Mueller's Russia probe, through "colleagues." I believe from the context of later emails that the "colleagues" in question were members of the Mueller team--and according to Ohr they've "made the request" and appear to favor it: "they will inquire again." Again, bear in mind that Rosenstein has flatly declared that Ohr was outside that chain of command and that he (Rosenstein) had no knowledge of Ohr's involvement.
A further gap is followed by a follow up email from Steele, to which Ohr immediately replies:
7/16/17 5:47 pm Steele: “I spoke to my old colleagues last week and they assured me they would not stand in the way of our reengagement with the Bureau."
7/16/17 5:49 pm Ohr: "I will pass this along to my colleagues. Thanks!"
This is in some ways the most Intriguing exchange of all. Steele's "former colleagues" can only be those in British intelligence, presumably MI-6, where Steele was formerly employed. Had the US side had reservations about using Steele, as a former employee of MI-6 and as a British subject on British soil? Did they, through Ohr, ask Steele to clear "reengagement" with Steele's "old colleagues?" I.e., with MI-6? Admittedly we're speculating to some extent, but it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the Steele and Ohr requests were in fact submitted to the Mueller team. Did the Mueller team advise Rosenstein--who oversees the Special Counsel--of this fact? Rosenstein's letter to Congress appears to be an unequivocal "No." If all this is the case, then Mueller has some explaining to do. And this may be at the nub of Giuliani's shot across Mueller's bow.
So, as of 8/6/17, about a month and a half after Mueller was appointed, it's clear Steele still sees the Mueller probe as the opening for him to resume working with the Deep State, and Ohr is just as clearly on board with the idea. Steele complains that
"we are frustrated with how long this reengagement with the Bureau and Mueller is taking. Anything you could do to accelerate the process would be much appreciated. There are some new, perishable, operational opportunities which we do not want to miss out on."
Operational opportunities! That seems to suggest more than "dossier" type info; possibly entrapment schemes. And Ohr's response is to arrange direct voice communication to talk it over the very next day.
But even as Steele and Ohr were emailing and talking, the wheels were about to come off their schemes. IG Horowitz had become aware of the incriminating texts between Strzok and Page, and Strzok was about to be sent packing back from the Mueller team to FBIHQ, in disgrace.
If Mueller had ever had any doubts about the wisdom of "reengagement," the realization that Horowitz was looking over his shoulder certainly confirmed them. Moreover, the thin ice on which Ohr had been skating appears to have given way at about the same time. In light of the new lay of the land, Steele writes:
9/7/17 Steele: "Hi Bruce. I appreciate that this might be tricky but I would appreciate a brief chat about latest developments. Over to you and Best."
By late October Steele is getting very worried about those developments. Interestingly, he indicates that he has contacts of his own within the Mueller team--even after the departure of Stzok and Page:
10/26/17 Steele: "Just seen a story in the media about the Bureau handing over docs to Congress about my work and relationship with them [i.e., the Bureau]. ... I shall also reach out to my other (SC) contacts on this issue."
And on 11/18/17 Steele strikes a despairing note:
"I am presuming you've heard nothing back from your SC colleagues on the issues you kindly put to them from me. We have heard nothing from them either. To say this is a disappointment would be an understatement! ... Also, we remain in the dark as to what has been briefed to congress about us, our assets and previous work."
Sundance at Conservative Treehouse summarizes what we've reviewed:
"The key takeaway within the 2017 communication between Bruce Ohr and Chris Steele, seemingly glossed over amid the granular presentation, is that Christopher Steele viewed Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of the “small group team.” The fact that Steele viewed Mueller as an extension of the Strzok, Comey, Page and McCabe objective is a rather big deal, yet generally not given much attention."
And very much to the point, Rudy Giuliani also views this as a rather big deal.
ADDENDUM: Lisa Page got high marks from the House Intelligence Committe for frankness during her recent testimony. During that testimony she apparently downplayed any contacts she may have had with Bruce Ohr. However, the Ohr emails now make it clear that she was involved in meetings with Ohr and the main players in the Russia hoax--leading members of the Intelligence Committee to reconsider their first impression of her testimony. One assumes this will increase the pressure on her.