Georgia Rep. Doug Collins unilaterally released a 268-page transcript Friday of a deposition that Justice Department official Bruce Ohr gave to Congress in August.
Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, took the unusual step by reading a statement on the House floor and providing a link to the Ohr transcript in the public record. The representative said his patience with the Justice Department “has grown thin.”
Ohr served in 2016 and 2017 as a back channel between the FBI and Christopher Steele, the former British spy who authored the anti-Trump dossier alleging collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government. (RELATED: Bruce Ohr’s Testimony Contradicts Glenn Simpson’s)
Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked as a contractor for Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that hired Steele.
Bruce Ohr was interviewed on Aug. 28, 2018 by a task force of members from the House Judiciary and House Oversight Committees.
Collins said Friday that he plans to release additional transcripts from interviews conducted by the task force. Lawmakers have also interviewed Nellie Ohr and FBI and Justice Department officials such as former FBI general counsel James Baker and former FBI attorney Lisa Page.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we gave DOJ an opportunity to review them for information that would endanger national security, but after many months and little progress, our patience has grown thin,” Collins said.
“The proposed redactions have nothing to do with national security and are anathema to our goal of government transparency,” he continued, adding that “I am, therefore, today making one of these transcripts public.”
“I intend to make other transcripts public soon,” he said. “I’m willing to consider any reasonable redactions DOJ makes in a timely manner, but won’t allow these transcripts to remain shrouded in secrecy.”
Parts of Bruce Ohr’s testimony have already been leaked to the press. In the hearing, Bruce Ohr undercut several claims made by Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, and California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
Bruce Ohr testified that he met with Simpson on Aug. 22, 2016 to discuss information from the dossier. That contradicted Simpson’s testimony to House Intelligence on Nov. 14, 2017 that he did not meet with Bruce Ohr until after the election.
Bruce Ohr also told lawmakers that he told the FBI about his contacts with Steele in early August 2016, days after he and Nellie Ohr met the former British spy in Washington, D.C.
Schiff claimed in a memo released on Feb. 24, 2018 that Bruce Ohr did not tell the FBI about his contacts with Steele until after the election.
Ohr testified that he generally trusted Steele, who he first met in 2007, when Steele still worked for the British government. But Ohr had less confidence in Steele’s sources, since their information originated with Russians.
“I think — my impression is that Chris Steele believed his sources,” Ohr said in one exchange.
“What I should say in addition, though, is that whenever you are dealing with information from Russia, you have to be careful, because it is a very complicated place. And so even information from a good source has to be looked at carefully.”
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