Trump followed up on his revocation of former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance by saying that he was looking at taking away the clearance of a current Department of Justice official, Bruce Ohr: “I think Bruce Ohr is a disgrace. I suspect I’ll be taking [his security clearance] away very quickly.”
When Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday read off a laundry list of former intelligence and national security officials who could have their clearances pulled, Ohr was the only one still employed by the government.
Ohr is a Department of Justice official who is a longtime acquaintaince of former British spy Christopher Steele, author of the infamous Trump dossier. Ohr was transferred at the DOJ last year when it came out he had been in contact with Steele before and after the election. His wife, Nellie, worked at Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned Steele on behalf of the Clinton campaign, for less than a year. ABC News recently reported that Nellie “was not directly involved in the dossier project.”
Ohr and his wife have been a subject of right-wing fascination. Pundits and even Republican congressmen have accused Bruce Ohr of being a key go-between with Steele even after the bureau ceased working with Steele in 2016 for talking to reporters. (Never mind that Ohr wasn’t formally working on the Russia investigation—his DOJ role was focused on organized crime, where Steele had previously helped out the FBI, including with the investigation into corruption in international soccer.) One of the contacts that has conservatives riled up was reported in March by the New Yorker, which described Steele becoming more and more alarmed in 2016 about possible connections he’d discovered between Trump and Russia. He “confided in a longtime friend” Bruce Ohr his concern that no one in American law enforcement was going public with them, the New Yorker reported. In a memo cited by the New Yorker, Ohr said that Steele “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being President,” but, according to anonymous sources, “Ohr and other officials urged Steele not to be so upset about the F.B.I.’s secrecy, assuring him that, in the U.S., potentially prejudicial investigations of political figures were always kept quiet, especially when an election was imminent.”
It’s within this context that the Ohrs have increasingly become the subject of the president’s tweets:
Ohr is set to answer questions before the House judiciary and oversight committees in a closed-door session later this month.
Support our independent journalism
Readers like you make our work possible. Help us continue to provide the reporting, commentary, and criticism you won’t find anywhere else.Join Slate Plus