Bruce Ohr leaves DOJ after being rebuked for contact with Steele during Russia investigation

Kevin Johnson
 
| USA TODAY

A senior Justice Department official, whose associations with a British informant in the government’s Russia investigation drew rebukes from Justice’s watchdog, has retired as a decision loomed in an internal disciplinary review.

Bruce Ohr, a former associate deputy attorney general, left the department Sept. 30, Justice spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said Wednesday.

“Mr. Ohr retired after his counsel was informed that a final decision on a disciplinary review being conducted by … senior career officials was imminent,” Kupec said.

Late last year, Justice’s inspector general, in a withering account of the government’s handling of the Russia inquiry, singled out Ohr for his extensive contacts with Christopher Steele, the author of a now-infamous dossier alleging salacious conduct involving Trump in Russia.

More: A new blow to the FBI: Watchdog report details dysfunction, missteps in wiretap of Trump aide

More: Former FBI Director James Comey defends Russia investigation, concedes on Carter Page

The contacts between Ohr and Steele occurred at a time when Ohr’s wife worked for the firm that had hired Steele to do political opposition research work for the Democrats, creating a conflict of interest.

The inspector general concluded that Ohr “committed consequential errors” by failing to advise his supervisors that he was communicating with Steele and requesting meetings with FBI officials involved in the Russia investigation on matters that were “outside his areas of responsibility.”

The FBI ultimately used the dossier to obtain a surveillance warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, even though inspector general’s report found that the bureau had omitted questions about Steele’s credibility.

Ohr has drawn the ire of congressional Republicans and Trump who has seized on Ohr’s conduct and the FBI’s surveillance lapses as evidence that he Russia investigation was biased against him.

While the inspector general harshly criticized the FBI for its conduct in the investigation, the watchdog concluded that there was no evidence of political bias and that the investigation was justified.

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