On August 7, 2018, John Solomon of the Hill published an article detailing Bruce Ohr’s ongoing interaction with Steele. The Solomon article referenced documents that had been seen, but initially contained no documents.
At the same time Chuck Ross began to report that Ohr was more heavily involved than previously thought:
Source tells me that Congress recently got a trove of Bruce Ohr emails which include exchanges with Chris Steele and others. Source says emails show that Ohr is more significant player in dossier component of FBI/DOJ investigation than originally thought. https://t.co/eavBlYlxmM
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) August 7, 2018
There are three series of messages which stand out.
January 27, 2017:
Steele: Hi B! Our guy’s OK for the time being but I would like to keep our channel open on him and his situation if that’s all right? Many thanks for your support and Best wishes.
Ohr: Understood. We will be available if needed. Just let me know.
January 31, 2017:
Steele: B, doubtless a sad and crazy day for you-SY [Sally Yates]. Just wanted to check you are OK, still in situ and able to help locally as discussed, along with your Bureau colleagues, with our guy if the need arises? Many Thanks and Best as Always, C
Ohr: Yes, a crazy day. I’m still here and able to help as discussed. I’ll let you know if that changes. Thanks!
Steele: Thanks. You have my sympathy and support. If you end up out though, I really need another (Bureau?) contact point/number who is briefed. We can’t allow our guy to be forced to go back home. It would be disastrous all round, though his position now looks stable. A million thanks. C
Ohr: Understood. I can certainly give you an FBI contact if it becomes necessary.
March 7, 2017:
Steele: Would it be possible to speak later today please? We’re very concerned by the Grassley letter and it’s possible implications for us, our operations and our sources. We need some reassurance. Many thanks
Ohr: Sure: Would 130 today, DC time. work?
Steele: Yes thanks it would. Sorry to bother you so early but I know you’ll appreciate why we are concerned.
You can find the referenced Grassley letter here.
The text messages are used to initiate more detailed conversations via phone – both standard calls and FaceTime. As discussed in more detail previously, Ohr was routinely being interviewed by the FBI.
The January 2017 sequence of conversations detail an unknown third party who appears to be an information conduit to Steele (emphasis on appears):
Our guy’s OK for the time being but I would like to keep our channel open on him and his situation.
You are OK, still in situ and able to help locally as discussed, along with your Bureau colleagues, with our guy if the need arises?
I really need another (Bureau?) contact point/number who is briefed. We can’t allow our guy to be forced to go back home. It would be disastrous all round.
It appears “our guy” is foreign – or foreign born, currently living in either the U.S. or London.
Oleg Deripaska has been mentioned as a possibility, but I don’t think he’s the one being referenced. Importantly, Deripaska is mention in texts between Adam Waldman (DC lawyer, lobbyist and registered foreign agent for Deripaska and Sergey Lavrov) and Senator Mark Warner (texts here). Interestingly, Deripaska penned an op-ed in March, attacking Fusion GPS.
Sergei Millian seems a possible fit. Millian has been identified as Source D (and possibly Source E) in the Steele Dossier. However, Millian is a naturalized U.S. Citizen, born in Belarus.
Another real possibility is George Papadopoulos. He was interviewed by the FBI on January 27, 2017. He was later arrested by the FBI on July 27, 2017.
A lot depends on how one reads the Ohr/Steele texts.
I’m going to put forth another name: Julian Assange.
Assange lives in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. He has been under threat of extradition to the United States. Charges in Sweden have been dropped. In the UK, Assange faces a minor charge of skipping bail. It is extradition to the U.S. that he fears – for his role in leaking secrets via WikiLeaks.
In early 2017, efforts began “to try to get Assange to agree to “risk mitigation” — essentially, limiting some classified CIA information he might release in the future.”
Waldman was Deripaska’s attorney. He may also have acted in that capacity for Assange. From a June 25, 2018 article by John Solomon:
[In January 2017] Assange’s legal team approached Waldman – known for his government connections – to see if the new Trump administration would negotiate with the WikiLeaks founder, holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy. They hoped Waldman, a former Clinton Justice Department official, might navigate the U.S. law enforcement bureaucracy and find the right people to engage.
Waldman was asked by Assange’s team to work pro bono, and he did.
We know that Waldman met numerous times with Assange. From June 20, 2018 article in the Guardian:
A longtime US lobbyist for the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska visited Julian Assange nine times at the Ecuadorian embassy in London last year, according to visitor logs seen by the Guardian.
Adam Waldman, who has worked as a Washington lobbyist for the metals tycoon since 2009, had more meetings with Assange in 2017 than almost anyone else, the records show.
It is not clear why Waldman went to the WikiLeaks founder or whether the meetings had any connection to the Russian billionaire, who is now subject to US sanctions. But the disclosure is likely to raise further questions about the extent and nature of Assange’s alleged ties to Russia.
Waldman also met with Bruce Ohr regarding Assange. From the June 25, 2018 article by Solomon:
Waldman contacted Ohr, a Justice official he’d met during the Russia election case. They talked by phone and encrypted text messages in early January, then met Feb. 3, 2017, in Washington, records show. In between, Waldman met three times with Assange in London.
Waldman was attempting to broker a limited immunity deal allowing Assange safe travel to Washington to testify:
In the spring of 2017, one of Julian Assange’s lawyers Adam Waldman negotiated with the Justice Department on a possible deal to get the WikiLeaks founder limited immunity and safe passage out of a London embassy to talk with U.S. officials.
In return, Assange would provide technical information to the U.S. ruling out certain suspects in the release of hacked DNC emails key to the Russia case, identify vulnerabilities in the CIA’s computer systems and talk about measures to protect certain sensitive information in future releases by Wikileaks.
The immunity deal talks became serious. David Laufman, Deputy Asst. Attorney General in charge of counterintelligence at DOJ’s National Security Division led the negotiations:
The outlines of the deal were memorialized in a March 28, 2017 email between Waldman and Justice Department counterintelligence section chief David Laufman.
Here is the text of that email:
Subject to adequate and binding protections, including but not limited to an acceptable immunity and safe passage agreement, Mr. Assange welcomes the opportunity to discuss with the U.S. government risk mitigation approaches relating to CIA documents in WikiLeaks’ possession or control, such as the redaction of agency personnel in hostile jurisdictions and foreign espionage risks to WikiLeaks staff,” Waldman wrote Laufman on March 28, 2017.
Derived directly from this discussion of risk mitigation, Mr. Assange is also prepared to discuss (within the source protection boundaries expected of a journalist and publisher operating at the highest level of integrity) (i) a description of CIA information in the possession or control of WikiLeaks; (ii) the risks of third parties who may have obtained access to such information (not withstanding the foregoing, for the avoidance of doubt this category specifically and others generally will not include any information that may effect WikiLeaks obligations to protect its sources) and (iii) information regarding the timing of further publications in so far as they relate to the risk mitigation approaches developed.
It is here the Waldman/Warner texts come into play. From a February 16, 2017 Waldman text:
Just want to underscore my opinion and the reason I got involved – this guy is going to do something catastrophic for the dems, Obama, CIA and national security. I hope someone will consider getting him to the US to ameliorate the damage.
From a March 17, 2017 Waldman text:
Chris Steele asked me to call you.
Then on March 31, 2017 these Waldman texts:
My other guy, like Steele, very mistrustful of USG. He’s been essentially shut out of the country and dragged through the mud. I explored this question w him last night in person.
Update re the other guy, my contact at DOJ has gone silent for 72 hrs. I gave him what he asked for and now don’t hear from him. Please let me know if you hear anything.
On April 10, 2017 Waldman sent this:
Hi. Steele: would like to get a bi partisan letter from the committee; Assange: I convinced him to make serious and important concessions and am discussing those w DOJ; Deripaska: willing to testify to congress but interested in state of play w Manafort. I will be with him next tuesday for a week.
Waldman was representing all three men: Deripaska, Steele and Assange.
It gets stranger still. Somewhere during these negotiations Senator Warner spoke with then-FBI Director Comey and a stand-down order was issued. From the Solomon article:
“He told me he had just talked with Comey and that, while the government was appreciative of my efforts, my instructions were to stand down, to end the discussions with Assange,” Waldman told me. Waldman offered contemporaneous documents to show he memorialized Warner’s exact words.
Multiple sources tell me the FBI’s counterintelligence team was aware and engaged in the Justice Department’s strategy but could not explain what motivated Comey to send a different message around the negotiations through Warner. A lawyer for Comey did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
While the negotiations survived the Warner-Comey intervention, the episode sowed distrust in Assange’s camp.
On April 7, 2017, WikiLeaks released a new cache of CIA documents through its Vault 7 series of releases. Negotiations ended.
Important to the series of events. Assange has steadfastly maintained that Russia was not the source of the leaked DNC emails. From a January 3, 2017 interview on Hannity:
“We can say, we have said, repeatedly that over the last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party,” Assange said.
Following a August 16, 2017 meeting at the Ecuadorean Embassy with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher:
Julian Assange told a U.S. congressman on Tuesday he can prove the leaked Democratic Party documents he published during last year’s election did not come from Russia and promised additional helpful information about the leaks in the near future.
Rohrabacher said, “Julian emphatically stated that the Russians were not involved in the hacking or disclosure of those emails.”
“Julian also indicated that he is open to further discussions regarding specific information about the DNC email incident that is currently unknown to the public,” he said.
Assange has never been caught lying. If his claims are true they help place varying stances into perspective. Some may view things differently, but in light of events highlighted above, I don’t see Steele’s text as sympathetic to Assange – if Assange is “Our Guy”. If it is Assange it seems to me that Steele wanted him to stay right where he was – in the Ecuadorean Embassy.
Steele: We can’t allow our guy to be forced to go back home. It would be disastrous all round.
Bruce Ohr seems to have shared this sentiment.
Comey intervened through Senator Mark Warner to kill the limited Immunity Deal for Assange. It would appear that Warner sided with Comey.
Other DOJ officials appeared to remain vested in achieving a deal.
A tweet caught my eye earlier today that started me down this path. It came from WikiLeaks:
BREAKING: US Senate Intelligence Committee calls editor @JulianAssange to testify. Letter delivered via US embassy in London. WikiLeaks’ legal team say they are “considering the offer but the conditions must conform to a high ethical standard”. Also: https://t.co/pPf0GTjTlp pic.twitter.com/gQIUstbGbq
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 8, 2018
The WikiLeaks tweet contained a link to a June 19, 2018 article from Human Rights Watch; UK Should Reject Extraditing Julian Assange to the US:
Assange has agreed to surrender himself to the British police – but only if he were granted assurances against extradition to the US, where he could face life in prison. He also offered to appear in Sweden if Sweden would offer similar assurances.
It seems I’m not the only one who came to the tentative conclusion on Assange. Take a look at this very good thread:
Chat log between Christopher Steele and Bruce Ohr. On 1/27/17 Steele says our guy is okay for time being. Talks about that situation. Ohr responds “WE will be available as needed” https://t.co/oY7eyFfP9e pic.twitter.com/QpDD7VnYRS
— I can only remember pets names, sorry (@wakeywakey16) August 8, 2018
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