Trump wants to "quickly" remove the security clearance of a Justice Department official with ties to controversial Steele dossier

  • President Donald Trump told reporters on Friday that he expected to "quickly" remove the security clearance of Bruce Ohr.
  • Ohr is a Justice Department official with convoluted ties to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  • Trump's attacks on Ohr revolve around Ohr's connection to the so-called Steele dossier that was compiled by the former British spy Christopher Steele during the 2016 presidential election.
President Donald Trump at a press conference at Chequers in the U.K., on July 13, 2018, where he refused to answer a question by a CNN journalist
Dan Kitwood | Getty Images
President Donald Trump at a press conference at Chequers in the U.K., on July 13, 2018, where he refused to answer a question by a CNN journalist

President Donald Trump told reporters on Friday that he expected to "quickly" remove the security clearance of Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department official with convoluted ties to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Ohr's name stood out during a news conference earlier in the week, when White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders listed the high-ranking official among a number of vocal critics of the president who she was putting on notice.

Unlike the rest of the names on the list, including former FBI Director James Comey and former CIA Director John Brennan, Ohr is still a member of the Trump administration. He was associate deputy attorney general under Eric Holder until 2017 and continues to work for the DOJ.

Trump's attacks on Ohr revolve around his personal connection to the so-called Steele dossier that was compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele during the 2016 presidential election. The dossier contains a number of allegations about improper connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Ohr's wife, Nellie, worked on the dossier when she was a consultant at Fusion GPS, the firm that was commissioned to produce it. Republicans insist that the warrant the FBI obtained to investigate former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page and his ties to Russia is tainted because that dossier was part of the evidence used to obtain it. Trump has said the warrant was used to initiate the investigation that led to Mueller's probe.

"The big story that the Fake News Media refuses to report is lowlife Christopher Steele's many meetings with Deputy A.G. Bruce Ohr and his beautiful wife, Nelly," the president wrote in an Aug. 11 tweet, which is the first to mention Ohr by name.

The attacks on Ohr are part of a broader critique of Mueller's Russia probe which Trump calls a "witch hunt."

The president repeated the attack on Tuesday, writing that "Bruce Ohr of the 'Justice' Department (can you believe he is still there) is accused of helping disgraced Christopher Steele 'find dirt on Trump.'"

Despite Ohr's connections to the Steele dossier, there is no proof that it had any material impact on either the FBI's surveillance warrant for Page or on the Mueller probe.

In July, the FBI released redacted documents that showed that the bureau relied on evidence that was unrelated to the Steele dossier in its application to wiretap Page, and disclosed Steele's political motives.

While the president has alleged that the dossier spurred Mueller's Russia probe, the investigation began after Australian diplomats tipped off U.S. officials following a suspicious encounter with Trump's former foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos.

The Department of Justice declined to comment.