Whoa Nellie! Newly Released Emails Prompt Filing of Criminal Referral to DOJ


The Hill’s John Solomon reported that Republicans in Congress filed a criminal referral for Nellie Ohr with the DOJ on Wednesday night.

In response to a FOIA request, Judicial Watch recently obtained 339 pages of Ohr’s private emails. She was hired (as a contractor) in the spring of 2016 by Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson to conduct Hillary Clinton/DNC funded opposition research on candidate Donald Trump and his campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Her research focused on searching for any connections that Trump or Manafort may have had to corrupt individuals or activities in Russia and Ukraine.


The emails show that Ohr regularly sent “open-source intelligence” to not only her husband, top DOJ official Bruce Ohr, but to several of his colleagues as well, including at least three DOJ prosecutors: Lisa Holtyn, Ivana Nizich and Joseph Wheatley. This “raises questions of both conflict of interest and possible false testimony.”

For example:

July 6, 2016:  Hi Honey, if you ever get a moment you might find the penultimate article interesting — especially the summary in the final paragraph.” (The paragraph suggested that Trump was a Putin stooge.) “If Putin wanted to concoct the ideal candidate to service his purposes, his laboratory creation would look like Donald Trump.” 

This email also contained research about Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov.

During her testimony before Congress, she said she was researching Akhmetov “for Fusion for possible ties to Trump.” She told investigators that “Rinat Akhmetov is someone who also was associated with Manafort. Now, he’s Ukrainian, and right now, I can’t remember whether people explicitly, you know, pointed to particular organized crime activity that he’s suspected of.”

Solomon pointed out that “such overt political content flowing into the email accounts of a DOJ charged with the nonpartisan mission of prosecuting crimes is jarring enough. It raises additional questions about potential conflicts of interest when it is being injected by a spouse working as a Democratic contractor trying to defeat Trump, and she is forwarding her own research to her husband’s department and co-workers.”


Several of her emails included information that would later surface as evidence of alleged collusion between Trump and Russia. Examples include:

  • then-Russian ambassador to Washington Sergey Kislyak attended an April 2016 foreign policy speech by Trump. Former Attorney General Jeff Session eventually was forced to recuse himself from the Russia investigation as attorney general in part because he met Kislyak at that speech;

  • then-Trump campaign adviser Carter Page gave a July 2016 speech in Moscow. Nellie Ohr bolded a passage in the article noting Page’s company “continues to work with Russian investments” and included someone tied to the Russian energy giant GazProm.

Solomon spoke to several House Republicans who had reviewed the emails. They “believe that their timing may be essential to understanding how the false Russian narrative may have gotten such credence inside DOJ and intelligence circles despite its overtly political origins.”

On July 31, 2016, Nellie and Bruce Ohr met with dossier author Christopher Steele. In her testimony, she said it was at this meeting that she found out Steele was also working for Fusion GPS, which seems highly unlikely. She also testified that “Steele had concerns that he hoped the DOJ or FBI would investigate, with help from her husband.”

Solomon reported:

The next day, Bruce Ohr used his official DOJ position to go to then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe with Steele’s allegations (later to become known as the Steele dossier), and the bureau opened its first investigation into Russia collusion.

When asked by House lawyers during her deposition last year, Nellie Ohr testified that she did not discuss her Fusion GPS research before fall 2016 with anyone except possibly her husband (which she refused to answer, citing marital privilege) and Steele at the hotel meeting.

Bruce Ohr testified that his wife gave him a thumb drive of research to provide to the FBI during the 2016 election.


During the hearing, she was asked, “At any point prior to fall of 2016, did you discuss your research on organized crime and Donald Trump with individuals outside of Fusion GPS, outside of this Mayflower breakfast meeting?”

She answered “No.”

However, the newly released emails show that she often sent “open-source research on Russian organized crime figures, Trump, Manafort and developments in Ukraine with implications for the Trump campaign.” For example:

She immediately emailed her husband and two DOJ prosecutors specializing in international crime on May 30, 2016, when she learned about the “black ledger” documents in Ukraine. She wrote: “Reported Trove of documents on Ukrainian Party of Regions’ Black Cashbox.”

The revelation of the “black ledger” which indicated that a $12 million cash payment had been made to Manafort ultimately forced his resignation as Trump’s campaign and became the basis of Robert Mueller’s indictment the following year.

In March 2016, one of the DOJ officials to whom Nellie Ohr had been sending her research, Lisa Holtyn, emailed Bruce Ohr “for permission for Wheatley and another DOJ prosecutor to speak to Nellie Ohr. She wrote, “Do you think she would be comfortable with talking to them, and would it present any conflict of interest issues for her or for you?”

Bruce Ohr emailed his wife: “Hi honey! I trust you are okay with this? Love, B.”

She emailed back, “Sure! Cool!”

Solomon was told by a DOJ official:

There is no indication in the emails about what the three discussed. But Holtyn and Wheatley were among those who received some of Nellie Ohr’s Russia/Ukraine research. Holtyn sent a second email suggesting Nellie Ohr had “impressive knowledge” on a topic that was redacted from the released email chain and could be “of assistance” to the DOJ. Officials told me they believe the topic was Russian oligarchs, a subject her husband was working on in his official role.


On May 4, 2016, another DOJ official to whom Nellie Ohr had sent information, Joseph Wheatley, emailed her, “Thanks so much Nellie. I’m back in country and will touch base soon on the email you sent us yesterday.”

She often sent Bruce Ohr and his colleagues information about Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who was Paul Manafort’s former business partner. She told Congressional investigators that “Deripaska was one of the focal points of her research.”

Coincidentally, communications between Bruce Ohr and Steele show that they often discussed approaching Deripaska to obtain information about Manafort. The FBI eventually did so in fall 2016.

Judicial Watch’ Tom Fitton said, “The memos raise serious questions of a conflict of interest hidden behind a marriage. The documents show that Nellie Ohr had extraordinary access to the Justice Department. Nellie Ohr may as well as have had a desk at DOJ.”  

The bottom line is that Nellie Ohr was working on an opposition-research project for Fusion GPS, which was commissioned and funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC. She was paid to search for politically damaging information about Donald Trump and she passed this material on to her husband and other DOJ officials. And there is no way this does not represent a major conflict of interest. In addition, she allegedly lied to Congress during her October 2018 testimony.


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