Wednesday, October 14, 2020

MAJORLY UPDATED: Bruce Ohr Resigns--A Day Before He Would Have Been Fired

Catherine Herridge breaks the story:

SCOOP: A person familiar with the matter tells that Bruce Ohr is no longer working at DOJ. He resigned the day before he was going to be terminated by DOJ over his conduct cited in IG Horowitz report. Ohr was faulted for becoming a kind of backchannel linking dossier author Christopher Steele to the FBI after Steele's termination by Bureau as a source. Timing: Ohr left DOJ in recent weeks + seeking his comment

Note that Ohr would have been fired for cause. I'm no expert on employment law and civil service protections, but getting fired for cause isn't so easy to do unless you've done something pretty wrong. One way to accomplish that might be "lack of candor" issues. In other words, without actually committing perjury, you failed to be forthcoming when you were required to be.

My assumption is that Ohr was most likely allowed to resign--which may or may not preserve some pension rights as well as make it easier to be rehired elsewhere--as a favor in return for his long term cooperation with the Barr/Durham investigation.

I anticipate we'll be updating this post as details come out surrounding the terms of his resignation.

UPDATE: SWC agrees with my take, with a bit more specificity. He says it's "just a guess" but obviously I think it's a good guess:

Re Bruce Ohr -- just a guess.
He was referred by the IG to both DOJ on a criminal referral, and to OPR for disciplinary review.
The disciplinary review was likely stayed pending a decision on the criminal referral. I have always assumed he was cooperating with Durham.
His cooperation is likely complete, and the OPR process played itself out with a determination that he would be terminated. He retired ahead of that action being taken. And before anyone asks, he gets to keep his pension. No one loses what is vested even if they get fired.

So, the decision not to prosecute Ohr would have been based on his cooperation. It's not clear to me, but my suspicion is that, had he been prosecuted he then might have lost his pension. The further decision to allow him to retire before being fired was another reward for his cooperation, but the biggie was not being prosecuted.

This is probably very bad news for some major players in the Russia Hoax. As #3 at DoJ and in close cooperation with the Comey/McCabe FBI, Ohr would have been privy to most of what was going on in the plot against Trump. That could be key to building the big picture conspiracy case.

On the other hand, this should be regarded as good news for the rest of us.

UPDATE: Techno Fog has turned up the OPR summary of the Ohr case, which sundance includes in a much longer post. Techno Fog points out that, based on the date of this summary, Ohr probably left DoJ in late July or early August. As I expected, Ohr's recommended firing was based on "lack of candor." "Failed to provide a complete disclosure" = lack of candor. Here's the OPR summary:


OPR received a referral from another Department entity regarding allegations that a senior Department attorney [Ohr] failed to apprise his supervisor [Sally Yates?] of his interactions with a law enforcement agency [the FBI] and a source [Steele] concerning the subject matter of an ongoing high-profile investigation [the Russia Hoax, aka, Crossfire Hurricane].  Although the attorney eventually recognized the need to inform his supervisor, who was overseeing the investigation, of his involvement and provided some information about the general topic, [Ohr] failed to provide a complete disclosure of his role as a conduit of information between [Steele] and the [FBI]. As a result, the supervisor was unaware of the attorney’s activities related to the investigation until learning of them through other means.

OPR opened an inquiry, which it converted into an investigation, focusing on [Ohr's] incomplete disclosures to his supervisor about his ongoing activities related to [Steele] and the [FBI]. Following its investigation, OPR concluded that [Ohr] committed reckless professional misconduct by providing materially incomplete information to his supervisor, which constituted a misrepresentation.

The summary doesn't mention recommended disciplinary action or the final disposition. However, from what we now know that probably followed pretty shortly after completion of the investigation, since Fox tells us that Ohr agreed with the decision to resign--i.e., he didn't attempt to appeal.

I recommend a close reading of sundance's post: The Laundry Operation – Bruce Ohr Left DOJ Shortly Before Being Terminated: Likely in July. The details of Ohr's firing you already know. However, when sundance refers to "the laundry operation" he's referring to the fact that Ohr's 302s--dated in the first half of May, 2017--detail information regarding the collusion involving Chris Steele, Dan Jones, Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, and Senator Mark Warner of the SSCI--the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence--as well as with the FBI and DoJ. Recall that Jones worked as an investigator for the SSCI for years. Sundance walks through all this, but it seems clear that there would have been other major players involved.

Now you can see: 

why Bruce Ohr's cooperation with Durham is so important;

why Dan Jones' subpoena to appear before the grand jury is so important;

why we all need to cut Barr and Durham some slack--they really are fixing to fry some big fish;

and why Mark Warner and other major Deep State players have every reason to be worried.

The time frame involved has to do with the firing of Comey and also with the appointment of Mueller. 

Here's another interesting matter. The 302s are redacted, including the names of the FBI agents who interviewed Ohr. The interviews took place at the FBI's Washington Field Office (WFO) and were conducted by an SA ("street agent") and an SSA (Supervisor). Joe Pientka was an SSA at WFO, and William Barnett was an SA on Pientka's squad. That seems to hang together, and everyone should feel free to speculate as what Pientka and Barnett may have been talking to Durham about for the last couple of years--beyond what we know from Barnett's Flynn-related 302 that was released recently. Also feel free to speculate about Rod Rosenstein's role in all this and what he may have been discussing with John Durham.

This is really big.


  1. My assumption was the same as yours, Mark, that he was allowed to resign in exchange for cooperation.

    My biggest question is why does this happen now. Despite all his well known wrongdoing, he was kept on for a very long time. What was he doing all this time? I have to think they kept him around as long as he was useful. It would be interesting to find out if this late date had some significance in terms of retirement benefits eligibility--that would further suggest he was around for the purpose of cooperating.

    1. I assume it's happening now because his cooperation is at an end--Durham has everything he needs from him and his future testimony has probably been locked in via repeated appearances in front of a grand jury. IOW, Durham is making good progress.

  2. Bruce Ohr introduced Michael Gaeta to Christopher Steele in London in April 2010.

    After Gaeta fired Steele from being an FBI paid source in October 2016, Ohr immediately replaced Gaeta as Steele's handler for DOJ/FBI.

    I think Ohr knows a lot about the relationship between Gaeta and Steele.

    I think that Gaeta was not questioned about several elements of this history. For example, Horowitz apparently did not question Gaeta about Gaeta's sending of Steele's Dossier reports from Rome to the USA. Rather, Horowitz apparently questioned only Gaeta's supervisor, the FBI Legat in Rome.

    Therefore, I think that Gaeta has been a target of the Horowitz and Durham investigations and that Ohr has provided key information about Gaeta.

    Further, I speculate that FBI Director Comey transfered Gaeta from the FBI New York Field Office to Rome mainly in order to collect information in Europe about Trump from Steele. I have not been able to determine when Gaeta was transferred to Rome, but I suppose that it happened well before 2016.

    1. Beyond a doubt Gaeta will have been interviewed by Durham and has probably been involved in ongoing cooperation--regardless of whether or not he was complicit. His contacts were too important to ignore.

    2. Gaeta's firing of Steele from being an FBI paid source raises questions in my mind.

      (In this comment, I am speaking from my memory of reading Gaeta's testimony. I don't have time right now to review the testimony.)

      In the last days of October 2016, Gaeta confronted Steele in a phone conversation about Steele's discussions with journalists. Steele was defiant, declaring that DOJ/FBI had not been doing enough with Steele's information to prevent the election of Trump.

      Gaeta immediately fired Steele during that phone conversation.

      My questions are about Gaeta's authority to fire Steele. Gaeta's telling of this story gives the impression that Gaeta had absolute authority to fire Steele, without anyone else's input or approval. Maybe such authority is normal, but would suppose that Gaeta would have to discuss the matter first with his own supervisor.

      At that point in time, who was Gaeta's formal supervisor? The FBI Legat in Rome?

      Then in these circumstances, Ohr immediately and secretly becomes Steele's handler.

      For whom were Gaeta, Ohr and Steele really working?

    3. Beyond a doubt Gaeta will have been interviewed by Durham

      In the Horowitz report, I found indications that Gaeta answered some questions. However, it seems that he did not answer some other questions.

      Most importantly, the Horowitz report depends on the Legat to explain whether Gaeta sent any of the reports to FBI Headquarters -- and the Legat did not know for sure.

      So, why didn't Horowitz simply get the answers to this and other key questions directly from Gaeta?

      Maybe Gaeta answered some questions but then avoided or refused to answer further questions from Horowitz.

      The situation with Durham might be similar.

    4. IIRC that Gaeta was Steele's FBI "handler" relative to Steele's capacity as a CHS to FBI.

      Speculation: the real reason for terminating Steele as an FBI CHS is that his direct passing of his info to the MSM not only violated CHS policy at FBI, but also put the FBI folks involved in the conspiracy in jeopardy of having their carefully crafted "circular sourcing" blown up by Steele going rogue and blabbing directly to the journos. Too much risk, so Gaeta severed the official connection, which Ohr then picks up unofficially to keep the worthless Steele info flowing to the conspirators inside FBI.

    5. @EZ. Spot on as usual.

  3. Another thought: Ohr is important, not only for the reasons elucidated above, but also because he's a window into what was going on inside FusionGPS via his wife's employment there on the Trump oppo research/smear operation. If the price of saving the Ohrs' collective butts was his wife having to sing as well, they would be be a GOLD MINE for Durham's investigation, as it leads in so many critical directions inside the heart of the conspiracy.

    1. @EZ. Maybe Ohr’s wife sang. That’s a big IF. However could unlock access to FusionGPS and the DNC.

    2. .. and Steele, since Steele was hired by FusionGPS!

  4. It seems like a ridiculous question, Mark, but in professional experience can you categorize for "really big" means for the rest of us?

    1. I can only speculate. The overall investigation is of the biggest political scandal--EVER--in our history. The decision to allow Ohr to resign suggests to me that Durham and Barr believed at the time that they were very close to ready for the major indictments. What has stopped them? One guess is that they believe they need Flynn as a witness to put their best case forward. They miscalculated in believing that they could force Sullivan to do the right thing by releasing facts to the public.

    2. I say they thought they were ready because it fits the timeline. If Ohr resigned at the end of July, recall Barr was saying he hoped to move to the next stage by the end of summer, and that's when they pushed hard to dismiss Flynn.