by Chuck Ross, The Daily Caller:
- Bruce Ohr provided the FBI with research that his wife, Nellie, did on behalf of opposition research firm Fusion GPS.
- The Justice Department recently provided some of those documents to Judicial Watch, the conservative watchdog group.
- One of the documents is a spreadsheet that identifies 80 individuals with purported links to Donald Trump and Russian businessmen.
Nellie Ohr kept tabs on dozens of Trump associates and Russian businessmen as part of her work for Fusion GPS, according to government documents released Wednesday.
Ohr’s husband, Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, provided the documents to the FBI for its investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
One of the documents is an Excel spreadsheet that tracked 80 different individuals with links to President Donald Trump and Tevfik Arif, a Kazakh-born real estate developer who has done business in the past with the Trump Organization. Another is a dossier on Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who was convicted for financial crimes related to his work in Ukraine. (RELATED: Justice Department Releases Bruce Ohr Interview Notes)
Judicial Watch, the conservative watchdog group, obtained the documents through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
Fusion GPS hired Nellie Ohr, a Russia expert, in late 2015 to conduct research on various Trump associates, including members of his family. Beginning in summer 2016, Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson and dossier author Christopher Steele began corresponding with Bruce Ohr regarding their investigation of Trump. Steele, a former British spy, met with both Ohrs on July 30, 2016.
Fusion GPS was working at the time for the Clinton campaign and DNC.
After the 2016 election, Bruce Ohr would serve as a back channel between Steele and the FBI after the bureau cut ties with the former spy over his contacts with the press.
Republicans have questioned the arrangement, and said they wanted to find out whether Steele and Simpson used the Ohr husband-and-wife team to bolster the dossier. Steele’s work has been all but debunked by the special counsel’s report, which found no evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
The Justice Department on Aug. 8 released FBI notes of 12 interviews conducted with Ohr after his contacts with Steele and Simpson. In a Dec. 5, 2016 interview, Ohr said that he would provide investigators with the research his wife did while working for Fusion.
That same day, Ohr forwarded a copy of his wife’s spreadsheet, which had the file name “WhosWho19September2016,” to his Justice Department email account. He also forwarded a copy of a “Manafort Chronology” file that mapped the former Trump adviser’s career from the 1970s through 2015.
Nellie Ohr’s spreadsheet includes the business and personal details of various Trump-linked figures. It also shows that she tracked Arif, who was a subject of interest for Fusion GPS because of his real estate firm’s connection to the Trump Organization.
Aras Agalarov, the Azerbaijani-Russian billionaire who partnered with Trump on the Miss Universe pageant in 2013, is included on the list. In his dossier, Steele alleges that Russian intelligence filmed Trump during that trip with a group of prostitutes. Agalarov said in an interview in July that the prostitute rumor was “crazy nonsense.”
Another name on the list is David John Geovanis, a Moscow-based businessman who did business with Trump in the 1990s. Ohr’s spreadsheet references a May 13, 2016 report on Geovanis. At that time, Geovanis had not been linked to Trump in press reports at that time, but he was mentioned in a second dossier created in 2016 by longtime Clinton operative Cody Shearer. The Senate Intelligence Committee was pursuing an interview with Geovanis in February, CNN reported at the time.
Nellie Ohr’s spreadsheet also tracks Sergei Millian, who is alleged to be one of Steele’s main dossier sources. Ohr tracked several purported Millian associates, and her spreadsheet refers to three internal reports about him dated June 25, 2016, Sept. 19, 2016 and Sept. 22, 2016.
Nellie Ohr also kept tabs on Giorgi Rtskhiladze, a Georgian-American businessman who also did business with the Trump Organization. Rtskhiladze made a cameo in the special counsel’s report because of a text message exchange he had on Oct. 30, 2016 with then-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Rtskhiladze told Cohen that he had heard rumors of Trump sex tapes from Russia, and that he had “stopped the flow of some tapes from Russia.”
“Not sure of the content but person in Moscow was bragging had tapes from Russia trip. Will try to dial you tomorrow but wanted to be aware. I’m sure it’s not a big deal but there are lots of stupid people,” Rtskhiladze added in the texts.
Rtskhiladze has said in interviews that he never believed that the tapes existed, and that he was passing along the information as a courtesy to Cohen, his longtime friend. Cohen has testified that he personally investigated the rumored sex tapes, but did not believe they existed.
Ohr’s document refers to a Feb. 12, 2016 report about Rtskhiladze.
Ohr’s spreadsheet also lists Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign adviser who is close to Roger Stone. Caputo was interviewed by prosecutors with the special counsel’s office, as well as several congressional committees that investigated possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
He has been among the most vocal former Trump aides to call foul on the investigation, which he said nearly drove him into bankruptcy.
“I had heard that Fusion/FBI was tracking me and here’s the proof,” Caputo told the Daily Caller News Foundation about the Nellie Ohr spreadsheet.
“Now I want to see the July 1, 2016 report, which led to the Clinton campaign’s first fictional press release on the politically commissioned Russia Hoax. That’s where this cabal took their first shot at me and my family.”
Caputo says he’s now exploring legal action against Ohr.