US House Intelligence Committee investigators asked Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS, whether he had "heard from anyone in the US government… either from the FBI or the Department of Justice," when he was called to give testimony on the matter last year. Simpson replied, "After the election. I mean, during the election, no," during a November 14, 2017 hearing.
But emails from 2016 between Christopher Steele, who served in Britain's Secret Intelligence Service for more than two decades and was hired by Fusion to produce the dossier, and Bruce Ohr, who was then associate deputy attorney general for the DOJ, show the two already had a cozy relationship in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election.
Simpson had told House investigators that he provided Ohr with information "after Thanksgiving" in 2016 about matters relating to the dossier. As it turns out, Steele and Ohr had been in close contact for months, Byron York wrote in a report for the Washington Examiner Wednesday.
"On August 22, Ohr received an email from Simpson with the subject line ‘Can u ring.' There was not message beyond a phone number. Ohr's log lists some sort of contact — it's not specified what — with Simpson on August 22… Steele finished an installment of the dossier on August 22," the Examiner report notes.
Ohr and Simpson's contact in August 2016 makes it impossible that the first time they talked was after the late November Thanksgiving holiday. But it appears the August email wasn't their first connection.
Steele appears to have been a conduit between the DOJ's Ohr and Fusion GPS, which was on both the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee's payroll during the same time period from April 2016 to November 2016, as confirmed by their lawyers from Perkins Coie.
According to emails provided to Congress by the Justice Department and viewed by the Examiner, Ohr and Steele logged at least four phone calls together in 2016: one on July 7, two on October 18 and another on October 19. Ohr and Steele also met face-to-face over breakfast in Washington, DC, at the Mayflower Hotel on July 29 and on September 23. At the July 29 meeting, Steele, Bruce Ohr and Bruce's wife, Nellie Ohr, all met together. Nellie Ohr was a Russia expert for Fusion GPS at the time.
The DOJ also knew about Fusion GPS' attempt to influence the election by trying to get Mother Jones reporter David Corn to write about the dossier, which Politico, the Washington Post and other news outlets had seen circulating for months but refused to publish because its contents couldn't be verified for authenticity, John Solomon wrote on Thursday for an article published by The Hill.
"Glen [sic] asked Chris to speak to the Mother Jones reporter. It was Glen's [sic] Hail Mary attempt," Ohr wrote in an email. On October 31, 2016, Corn published a story titled "A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump."
On Thursday evening, The Hill reported that House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) is expected to issue subpoenas to Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, the now-ex DOJ official Bruce Ohr and Nellie Ohr, citing two sources familiar with the matter.
Current and former FBI and Justice Department officials such as Jim Baker, Sally Moyer, Jonathan Moffa and George Toscas are also going to draw the Judiciary Committee's ire, The Hill noted. "We plan to interview the people [mentioned] in the coming weeks, and we will issue subpoenas to compel their attendance if necessary," a House Judiciary aide confirmed Thursday to the news outlet.
While the infamous dossier contains a number of explosive assertions about US President Donald Trump and Russia's FSB having dirt on his supposed sexual escapades in Russia, its contents remain unsubstantiated. Nonetheless, the FBI used the document as evidence in a FISA renewal application to surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Page. The FBI paid Chris Steele as an informant for an unknown sum over an unknown time period up until November 1, 2016, when it told him his services were no longer needed.