Saturday, March 9, 2019

Lots Of Noise Swirling Around Bruce And Nellie Ohr

Sundance at Conservative Tree House (CTH) has been trying to connect dots regarding the activities of Bruce and Nellie Ohr. I have some important reservations regarding his speculations, but the release of the full transcript of Bruce Ohr's House testimony and Judicial Watch's FOIA dump from DoJ opens up avenues of research.

The CTH research, in its most convenient form, can be found be found here, and in its original Twitter form here. I will simply work my way down the thread, which contains 14 tweets.

The core of sundance's speculation is his insistent assertion that Nellie Ohr "had to" be working concurrently for both DoJ NSD (National Security Division) and Fusion-GPS--opposition research for the Clinton campaign. Sundance has made this assertion before, but without hard evidence, and I still don't see the evidence now. In support of the assertion he states:

No-one spends that much time gathering, formatting and distributing that much information for free. She had/has to be a government contracted employee for the DOJ.

To start at the beginning, yes, we know that as of 2010 Nellie was an employee/researcher for Open Source Works--a branch of the CIA. Zerohedge has a nice synopsis of what little can be known about Open Source Works:

Open Source Works is described as the "CIA's in-house open source analysis component, devoted to intelligence analysis of unclassified, open source information."  So - Nellie Ohr, the wife of recently demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr - worked for both Fusion GPS and the CIA. It is unclear whether her time at Fusion overlapped with her time at the CIA. 
Open Source Works, which is the CIA’s in-house open source analysis component, is devoted to intelligence analysis of unclassified, open source information.  Oddly, however, the directive that established Open Source Works is classified, as is the charter of the organization.  In fact, CIA says the very existence of any such records is a classified fact. “The CIA can neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of records responsive to your request,” wrote Susan Viscuso, CIA Information and Privacy Coordinator, in a November 29 response to a Freedom of Information Act request from Jeffrey Richelson of the National Security Archive for the Open Source Works directive and charter.

How long Nellie remained with Open Source Works is unclear, but in 2015--or early 2016 at the latest--we find her at Fusion GPS researching the Trump campaign.

What I don't get about sundance's assertion that Nellie had to have been working for the US Government as well as for Fusion GPS is simply this: Nellie was certainly being paid by Fusion GPS, so she obviously wasn't doing the research for free. There's a logical disconnect there. Of course she wasn't working for free, but that doesn't mean that she had to have been paid by the USG. Further, I find the whole idea dubious because it seems so obviously illegal that a USG employee would have outside employment with a firm doing opposition research for a political campaign. It's too flagrant, and we know that the whole Russia Hoax op was all about covering tracks.

Therefore, sundance's tweet #3 is almost self answering. A phone log of a call appears on p. 22 of the JW FOIA dump of DoJ documentation, and sundance asks:

Page #22 is interesting. Whose phone call records? Bruce or Nellie? Contact with Rod Rosenstein December 13, 2016…. before inauguration. 

With the supposition of Nellie being employed by DoJ eliminated, it's obvious that this is a log of a call by Bruce Ohr. And that said, yes, it is interesting--but inconclusive. A month after the election and a month before the inauguration Bruce Ohr is in contact with Rod Rosenstein. Here's the redacted call log:

However, this could be official business.

"Jim Crowell" is almost certainly James A. Crowell IV (“Jim”), who is currently Director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) at the DoJ, but at the time of the call was

Acting Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General and Chief of Staff to the Deputy Attorney General [Sally Yates], where he supervised all day-to-day operations of the Office of Deputy Attorney General and served as the principal advisor to the Deputy Attorney General on all criminal, national security, civil, and other DOJ policy matters. ...
... Before joining the Deputy Attorney General's office, Jim was the Criminal Chief in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, where he began as an Assistant United States Attorney.

The series of communications ends with "Call FBI DONE." What does it mean? It's hard to say. It could well be official business unconnected to the Russia Hoax--after all, the hoaxters did have to perform some official duties for cover purposes, if for no other reason. It's also worth noting that Crowell would have been directly under Rod Rosenstein at the USA's office in Maryland, where Rosenstein was the USA. I'd like to know more, but we can't jump to any conclusion based on this log alone.

From here CTH moves on with a brief mention of Nellies ham radio avocation--which began on May 23, 2016, shortly after she began work at Fusion GPS. Here's a copy of her license, but you may want to consult the thread #6 for a more legible version:

This ham radio angle has always been tantalizing, and in fact remains extremely important--but we're still in the realm of speculation. Most unfortunately. A commenter on the Twitter thread interjects some misinformation:

Rider On The Storm....‏

Ham Radio is a low frequency communications band. What that means is the distance the comms travel is the longest.. for example someone in Virginia can talk to someone in England as long as they are on the same frequency... codes can be passed without anyone noticing (1/2)

Rider On The Storm....‏

If you are “scanning” frequencies, all you would hear would be nonsense or jibberish and skip to the next frequency. Resistance fighters used it in WWII. GOVT requires you to register your radio so they know who is talking and from where. And they do listen in! (2/2)

But to show how important the ham angle really is, let's turn to Mechanics of Deception (follow the link for gory tech details):

What’s with the Ham? 
There is a lot of buzz on-line about Nellie Ohr’s Ham radio license and her possible uses for it. On May 23rd, 2016, just as the dossier project was kicking into gear, (Steele was only hired in June), Nellie Ohr, at the ripe old age of give-or-take 55, got a Technician radio license. 
There are a number of curious things about Ohr getting an amateur radio license so late in her career. 
  • Her professional profile does not show her to be the techie type. ...
  • She doesn’t belong to any ARRL radio club in the Fairfax area 
  • The radio clubs in her registration area have no records of administering the exam (Ham Radio exams are typically administered by the local ARRL club).
  • Her call sign, KM4UDZ, shows no public activity ...
  • ... her technician rating is the lowest class of amateur radio license and has limited privileges with regard to the available frequencies and transmitter power output. 
So for all of the conspiracy theorists out there that believe that Ohr was engaged in OSS style night transmissions from a secret compartment in the barn to her controller in Moscow: she wasn’t. The radio class limits would only give her a line of sight range of 5-10 miles. In a repeater mode, she could push the range to 20-200 miles. If you don’t think that a 10-mile range is sufficient, think again. It is likely that Ohr’s rationale for using a Ham radio was a substitution for a cell and landline phones in order to communicate with person(s) nearby. ... even with a 7.5 radius she was well within the range of the entire downtown Washington D.C. area. 
We know that Nellie Ohr was the dossier’s liaison to some other agencies. It’s not unlikely that someone versed in SIGINT told her that she had to use a Ham radio because if the project went south, the first line of investigation would have been to subpoena all of her cell and phone records and analyze them to completely re-construct her operational network. 
We know that Nellie Ohr’s husband, Bruce Ohr, was the Department of Justice’s contact for Steele and Fusion GPS and in fact held meetings with both about the dossier. We also know that Ohr headed a task force code named Cassandra and Operation Fast and Furious that among other things utilized cell phone tracking technology to identify money laundering, drugs, and weapon smuggling. So, it makes sense that he was aware of the need for electronic surveillance countermeasures. 
But what about tracing her Ham call sign during transmission, wouldn’t that eliminate her radio anonymity? 
In theory, yes, but in practice, it can be circumvented. ... So, in addition to the encrypted voice the identity of the sender call signs would also be hidden.

I think you can see from this that Nellie's ham radio license is the most telltale sign of any that the Russia Hoax was a clandestine conspiracy, consciously formed, and not simply public servants safeguarding our national security.

Next a brief comment regarding Rod Rosenstein's refusal to disclose when he first became aware that Nellie Ohr, Bruce Ohr's wife, was working for Fusion GPS (a fact which Bruce Ohr was obliged to disclose to DoJ but didn't). Sundance wants to weave this into his Nellie-had-two-jobs narrative, but we've seen how dubious that appears to be--not impossible but very dubious, IMO. The simple explanation, then, is that Rosenstein learned of Nellie's employment at a relatively early date and failed to take the required action regarding Bruce's failure to disclose the information when he should have. Pretty obviously this reflects poorly on Rosenstein--and may even involve him in criminality, if that is construed to place him in the middle of a conspiracy. And in this regard, sundance links to a Judge Jeanine interview with Sara Carter, Gregg Jarrett, and Matt Gaetz that's well worth a rewatch, just to reflect your recollection. I particularly like the emphasis on the core issue of the Russia Hoax--the conspiracy with a foreign power: Great Britain.

CTH concludes with a salutary reminder of the clandestine intelligence nature of the Russia Hoax. He does this by quoting some texts between Steele and Bruce Ohr, who were clearly as thick as ... spies:

10) Oh, and those "important firewalls" Chris Steele was describing below...…


11) I believe "important firewalls" is a direct reference to the intelligence laundry operation between: Nellie Ohr, Fusion-GPS and Glenn Simpson,... to Chris Steele (for the intel wash) and then back.... to Bruce Ohr and into the FBI.

12) Christopher Steele's job was to verify Nellie Ohr assembled Trump research and establish secondary intelligence sourcing along with his own contribution (via indy sources). It was those "sources and methods", which included a laundry operation, he needed to firewall.

13) He was, in essence, protecting his company, himself, and his financial livelihood.
And he was worried that James Comey testimony on March 20th, might compromise his construct.

Sundance is absolutely right to emphasize this, because the whole business of "firewalls" here is the lingo of clandestine conspiracy. And the information that is now becoming widely available is fleshing out the shape of that conspiracy, as well as identifying the players and who could really dish the dirt.

For my money, the people who need to be in front of a Grand Jury are two in particular: Andrew Weissmann and Zainab Ahmad. Bill Barr really does need to take the initiative here. It may be worthwhile to repeat our previous analysis of what was known about Bruce Ohr, in The FBI: Working Hand In Glove With Clinton Operatives, since it draws in most of the central characters who remain in the news:

When Ohr met Steele again in either late September or early October, 2016 he did so in company with quite a group: Peter Strzok and Lisa Page from the FBI, and three DOJ career officials from the criminal division, Bruce Swartz, Zainab Ahmad, and Andrew Weissman--currently Robert Mueller's deputy. Note that while Crossfire Hurricane was a CI case and Strzok was second in charge of Counterintelligence at the FBI, the DoJ officials were all from the Criminal Division. For prosecutors to meet with an asset at this early stage strongly suggests they were planning strategy. But this also probably means that they were planning for the FISA application, given that the application was submitted on October 21, 2016, immediately after Steele's October 20 report--the report in which Michael Cohen's famous trip to Prague for a "clandestine" meet superseded the clandestine Moscow meet of Carter Page, who was no longer with the Trump campaign. Which leads to the supposition that this meeting with Steele was to tell him, inter alia, that more detailed information was needed for the FISA application--which Steele duly provided, in the form of the now famous Cohen-Prague miscue. 
All in all, it's an interesting picture: three officials from DoJ's Criminal Division meeting with the second in command of the FBI's CI division (accompanied by the Deputy Director's counsel) to plan for a FISA on--in effect--a candidate for the presidency. Coaching the asset on what was now needed for the FISA to go through, which would be typical Weissman tactics. And all this without informing the Acting AG, Sally Yates. Or so they say. 
Robert Barnes, drawing on John Solomon's article, has picked up on this FISA aspect and specifically uses the words "lying to FISA courts" and applies them to Andrew Weissman, Mueller's deputy, as I should have done:

Robert Barnes‏ 
One of the key people implicated in DOJ lying to FISA courts is none other than Mueller's top man, #Weissmann.


  1. seen this?

    1. Absolutely. If that interested you, then so should this: What's So Special About That Relationship? Seems a long time ago that I wrote that, but not so much really.

      I thought of writing something comparing the two pieces--there are an awful lot of intriguing connections among the various players, but there's only so much one can do. As I said, I totally agree with Gregg Jarrett that the Brit angle is fundamental and is the most scandalous part of it all. It's one thing to corrupt our institutions for political purposes, but to call on a foreign power to help with that ...

    2. The problem is we Deplorables view this through a nationalistic lens and see crimes and possibly treason. The Deep State is Globalist. They see cooperation between precincts so that business is not interrupted.

    3. Yes, the Russia Hoax has exposed not only the Deep State but also its Globalist ideology. That alone is a remarkable achievement for Trump.

  2. You say that Nellie Ohr working for two masters, one government, one not, is so "obviously illegal," she would never, as Sundance claims, have done it. I'm not so sure. You may be right, yes. But still.

    These people were all self-appointed guardians of the republic, an insufferable blindness that gave them license to do anything they wanted, like spying on American citizens using a dossier most of them knew was a fake.

    By my lights, everything that FISA court did was illegal. In fact, I'm so mad I want the FISA system dismantled. None of them can be trusted. What happened with that surveillance is the worst criminal abuse of government power I've ever seen.

    Everything these guardians did was either close to illegal or outright illegal. Brennan deliberately lied under oath to Congress; so did Clapper. They did so because the cause was just. They engaged in criminal behavior because they believed the nobility of the task absolved them from sin.

    I mean, listen to McCabe. Is he crazy? If he believes what he's saying about why he did what he did, he's plumb nuts--like most liberals. He could be lying. Or he could be stupid. I don't know. Nellie O is just another one of them. Taking money from two masters, why not? It isn't like she ever had to worry about anyone at CIA lifting up the rock she was hiding under. And let's also not forget how utterly inept the CIA is. The organization has never once been right. All it does is screw up--and I do blame 9-11 on them. Heads should have rolled. Instead, 'slam dunk' Tenet got a medal!

    Again, you could be right. You probably are, as you are operating at a far more granular level than I am. All I have is my anger. And I have no evidence, outside of an abiding distrust of anything these traitors, I believe that is the right word, do. Also, unless Mr. Barr starts becoming the man you think he is, not a one of these criminals will be arrested.

    1. Titan, I'm not for a moment suggesting that this whole Russia Hoax wasn't illegal from start to finish, with all sorts of illegalities over the course of the whole thing. What I'm saying is that these were very clever people who knew what they were doing was illegal and who were therefore deliberately acting according to time honored principles of clandestine conspiracy. That's the whole point of the ham radio setup. That's why I say they wouldn't have done something so OBVIOUSLY illegal--something that could be proven to be illegal just by examining employment records. They would look for some way to hide that. Everything else they did was covered by some superficial form of deniability--especially the FISA--so there's no reason to expect them to act so openly and brazenly. But don't worry. There's plenty of deniability. It simply takes some digging beneath the surface.

    2. Ugh. Correction: "There's plenty of ILLEGALITY to go around."

    3. By and large I'm with you. They were, and are, clever to a fault. And they know the pressure points. It amazes me that Nellie O would do ham radio as some kind of cut out (spy talk). It's too much. There's no bottom to these people.

    4. Yes, the ham radio thing was part of what Steele called the "firewall." It was intended to conceal the criminal conspiracy, so it was part of the whole thing. That's part of why I say, nothing so OBVIOUSLY illegal--having a ham radio license isnt' illegal in itself, but it was obtained in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy.

  3. Information on Spygate is coming out bit by bit but the code of silence among participants is holding up well enough that public may never know the full extent of the conspiracy. The question is how to break it wide open. To me, it is far more important for the truth to come out than for people to go to jail. I am not a lawyer, but could Senate investigators offer immunity to someone in exchange for telling everything they know? If so, who could they offer it to? The Ohrs? Lisa Page? Steele? Somebody else? I think the Ohrs would be the best bet since Bruce Ohr is still employed by the government and therefore has something to lose. Lisa page also seemed to have misgivings about the plan in her texts to Strzok.

    BTW, reading Bruce Ohr's testimony I am struck by his stammering response to Meadows' question about why he was discussing a special counsel with Steele 2 months before one was even appointed (page 107). Has anyone noticed this? I haven't been following this closely but it seems really damning.

    1. "To me, it is far more important for the truth to come out than for people to go to jail."

      Agreed. Knowledge is the real key.

      "I am struck by his stammering response to Meadows' question about why he was discussing a special counsel with Steele 2 months before one was even appointed ..."

      See below, my exchange with Unknown. Meadows and Ohr are talking about Ohr and Steele's concern that a special counsel--and I think they mean, an SC who investigated impartially--might want to demand testimony from Brits. Perhaps Steele was worried only about his own ass, but then again, maybe that points toward broader Brit involvement. Hard to say, based only on this testimony, but tantalizing. After all, I think we know that when Trump said "allies" "begged" him not to declass, THEY certainly weren't concerned simply about Steele--or if so then they were concerned about aspects of Steele's involvement that went far beyond what we know.

  4. The involvement of MI6/GCHQ is the most significant under-reported aspect of Spygate (an actual coup attempt to take down a duly elected president of the United States). This was not a Tom Clancy novel, but real life with the highest possible stakes. No one does that without serious intent and playing for keeps.

    Nelly had a handler at MI6 and he was based at the British Embassy in DC. Most of their interactions occurred in a safe house, but they also used dead drops. The ham radio link was an emergency fallback communications channel to alert the MI6 contact at British Embassy in DC in case something went very wrong.

    This is Barr's essential dilemma. If he blows this wide open, it will rock around the world, not just here in the USA.


    1. "The involvement of MI6/GCHQ is the most significant under-reported aspect of Spygate"

      Totally. Absolutely.

      "Nelly had a handler at MI6 and he was based at the British Embassy in DC ..."

      I can't say that without solid confirmation, but I can say that there are definitely aspects that don't truly make sense. For example, it's clear that the reason the various conspirators texted and emailed so freely was because they were convinced that Trump couldn't win. So why was Nellie soooo careful?

      Like you, I believe the Brit role went far deeper than we've heard publicly.

    2. "Barr's essential dilemma."

      Wouldn't you like to sit down and chat with him about all this?

    3. As an aside I think we should stop referring to this as SpyGate and call by the more accurate name CoupGate. If the left can massage language to turn opinion then so can we. TreasonGate just doesn't quite roll off the tongue.

    4. I like The Russia Hoax, but Coupgate definitely has somthing to recommend it.

  5. Re: Immunity, If Glenn Simpson is truly in legal jeopardy he might be tempted to spill the beans. He should look out for Novichok.

    Re: MI6/GCHQ involvement, that's Trump's trump card, so to speak. He keeps it under wraps and Meuller calls off the dogs. Unfortunately the public is left in the dark.

  6. I like these ideas, Anon, and they illustrate how complex this all is.

    Start with the second part: "Trump's trump card." It's not hard to imagine that that could be the case. Of course, going forward, it's also not hard to imagine leaks in the form of books--there'd be one helluva lot of money to be made! Why would Mueller go along with that? To protect Dems from prosecution? And what would Barr have to say? The other side of the coin is that Trump doesn't seem to need a deal and has lots of ammo of his own.

    Re Simpson, it seems the only scenario in which he'd spill the beans would be under threat of serious jail time--an eventuality for him that is devoutly to be desired. However, Simpson spilling the beans would definitely throw a spanner in any Trump/Mueller deal.

    Lots of possibilities.

  7. On one of these threads we discussed why Rosenstein wouldn't respond to questions about when he learned that Nellie Ohr worked for Fusion GPS. The answer to that becomes clear on pp. 112-113 of Bruce Ohr's testimony. Ohr had an obligation to disclose his wife's employment both because it put him in a conflicted position re info supplied but also because he was involved in an investigation in which his wife received financial benefit and, thus, so did he. John Ratcliffe pushes Ohr, and Ohr's responses are very weak. The way this impacts Rosenstein, I believe, is because Nellie continued working for Fusion GPS into 2017 and Bruce was still in touch with Steele and the FBI through most of 2017. If Rosenstein knew of this and failed to act ...

    1. I probably misspoke in stating that Nellie continued with Fusion into 2017. But the House questioning of Bruce Ohr certainly focuses on the conflict of Bruce and Nellie working on the same project. I have to believe that's the angle that Rosenstein wants to avoid.

  8. Charge McCabe, Page or B Ohr and immunity won't be necessary. None of these patriots will take the fall by himself. McCabe and Comey no longer speak. Page was outraged when McCabe foisted the WSJ leak on her. Page and Strozk broke up; I'm sure there's no love lost there. Comey wouldn't be content to spend time in the clink without his buddies Brennan and Clapper.

    1. The truth about the Deep State is the most important thing to get out there--and if that happens they'll all go down.

  9. Amen. I am in 100% agreement with you, Sir.

  10. The safe house used by Nelly Ohr had been under surveillance for quite a while and the video evidence alone is pretty damning. If someone releases that, it will start an avalanche that no one can stop. May is desperate to get Brexit resolved before this story breaks open.

    1. I'd appreciate some sort of sourcing for these assertions that you've made. "Under surveillance," in the context of US law, could IMO only mean that the FBI was surveilling either her or the Brits. Either alternative is problematic both legally but especially in the context of the Russia Hoax as we know it, in which the FBI played a central role.