These days, Christine Blasey Ford isn’t the only one who’s trying to avoid testifying. While she dodges the Senate, Nellie Ohr dodges the House. The former Fusion GPS employee and wife of former top-level Justice Department official Bruce Ohr has refused multiple requests to appear before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees. It seems as though the committees have been working on making this happen for an awfully long time. Since she still won’t appear voluntarily, the committees are reportedly considering subpoenaing her.
“Considering?” Come on, committees –- this has gone on too long. Serve the subpoena. Serve it on a shiny silver platter, with garnishes.
Bruce Ohr testified in late August. Much of the questioning concerned his relationship with British ex-spy Christopher Steele, who wrote the highly imaginative and unverified “dossier” paid for, through channels, by Hillary’s campaign and the DNC and used fraudulently to get a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page. If Bruce and Nellie wanted to coordinate their testimony, they've had plenty of time to work that out.
As reported by FOX News investigative reporter Catherine Herridge, former FBI general counsel James Baker has also refused to appear. Like Nellie Ohr’s, his testimony will be compelled if it comes to that. Looks as though that process server’s going to be a busy man.
It may also take some serious elbow-twisting to get the Justice Department to respond in a timely manner to President Trump’s call for declassification of documents relevant to the so-called Trump/Russia investigation. (No surprise there.) But Trey Gowdy says he’s read it all and that any delay is caused not by concern for national security, but because of the embarrassment it might cause the Justice Department and FBI. “Embarrassment is not a reason to classify something,” he notes.
“A lot of it should be embarrassing to John Brennan,” he continues. “And maybe therein lies why he is adamant that this information not be released.”
Can’t wait. But until we get the unredacted documents, reporters such as John Solomon at THE HILL are working to uncover more in the way of texts and emails. And it’s quite interesting to learn that the approach taken by Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and the rest of that motley crew wan’t always shared by others at the Bureau. Apparently, there was concern that some had “partisan axes to grind,” and not everyone conveniently assumed that Russia was out to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election.
On January 3, 2017, in apparent reference to a conversation with then-Assistant Director Bill Priestap, Strzok wrote to Page (who was then legal assistant to deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe), “He, like us, is concerned with over sharing. Doesn’t want Clapper giving CR cuts to WH. All political, just shows our hand and potentially makes enemies.”
Though somewhat open to interpretation, this message hints at political disagreement and intrigue within the FBI. According to Solomon, some investigators think that “CR” refers to “classified raw” intelligence, such as the Steele dossier and other intercepts. This message was sent at a critical time, less than 72 hours before the intelligence community released its report saying that Russia “meddled” in the 2016 election.
There are more texts at the link below. Not being Bureau-crats, we’ll have to puzzle over some of the jargon and abbreviations, but the most important take-away is that they were pondering the political risks and benefits of what was in their reports.
According to Solomon, one of Strzok’s texts from December of 2016 candidly states that that the FBI really couldn’t determine which of three possible motives had driven Russia’s attempts at interference. “...The activity is one-sided and clear,” he wrote, “but we can’t say the sole and primary purpose was specifically intended to help someone, hurt someone else or undermine the process. The reality is all three.”
Yet when Obama’s official intelligence report came out on January 6, the wording was certain: “We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.” That was obviously the chosen narrative of Obama’s White House, even without the evidence, and Democrats have stuck to it now for almost two years, though we still have no established motive on Russia's part besides simply to “undermine the process.”
Personally, I don’t think Hillary needed help from Russia or anybody else in contrasting herself unfavorably. She was doing fine all by herself. But I digress.
Anyway, we have this to chew on until the newly declassified documents start coming out, probably next week. If they don’t appear, the President is going to have to get tough. It’s no good allowing our own Justice Department to behave like Russia and “undermine the process.”
Sara A. Carter has looked at the same Strzok-Page text exchanges with her usual clear eye and offers additional insight.