Trump attacks Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, putting pressure on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire him

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters upon his departure from the White House in Washington, August 17, 2018. 

President Donald Trump on Monday attacked Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, while apparently pressuring Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire him.

"Will Bruce Ohr, whose family received big money for helping to create the phony, dirty and discredited Dossier, ever be fired from the Jeff Sessions 'Justice' Department?" the president wrote in a post on Twitter, accusing Ohr of having direct ties to the so-called Steele dossier. "A total joke!"

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a question from CNBC on Monday about whether Sessions interpreted the tweets as an order.

In a follow-up message, in which the president appeared to be quoting Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., he wrote: "'Bruce Ohr is at the center of FALSE ALLEGATIONS which led to a multi-million dollar investigation into what apparently didn't happen.' Darrell Issa, House Oversight. We can take out the word 'apparently.' @FoxNews"

The White House has threatened to revoke Ohr's security clearance. On Friday, Trump told reporters he expected to remove the clearance "quickly."

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders named Ohr during a news conference last week as among a group of 10 individuals whose security clearances could be in jeopardy. Ohr stood out as the only current official on the list.

Republicans have criticized Ohr for his connections to Christopher Steele, the former British spy who was commissioned by the research firm Fusion GPS to produce intelligence on Trump during the 2016 election. Ohr's wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.

In dueling memos released earlier this year, Republicans and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee sparred over the importance of Ohr's connections to Steele. Republicans on the committee, led by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., argued that Ohr was aware of Steele's anti-Trump bias, and that Steele's bias was concealed from a judge when the FBI applied to get a wiretap on Carter Page, a Trump campaign advisor. Democrats said the memo was misleading, and overstated Ohr's connections to Steele.

In July, the Trump administration released documents related to the Page wiretap application that showed that the FBI relied on more than just the dossier to obtain the warrant. The documents also show that the FBI was forthright regarding the political motivations of the dossier.

The president has criticized the Steele dossier, which contains some salacious but unverified claims about Trump, for being politically motivated. He has argued that the dossier taints special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. The FBI cited Steele's dossier, among other factors, in the warrant application to wiretap Page.

Trump has sought to tie the origins of Mueller's probe to the dossier. The FBI's Russia inquiry originated based on a tip from Australian officials after a suspicious encounter between a top Australian diplomat and George Papadopoulos, then a foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign, The New York Times reported late last year.

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