GOP chairman readies Steele dossier subpoenas

GOP chairman readies Steele dossier subpoenas
© Greg Nash

The Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is readying subpoenas for people connected to the controversial “Steele” dossier, sources tell The Hill.

Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteIt’s time for Congress to pass an anti-cruelty statute DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling House GOP probe into FBI, DOJ comes to an end MORE (R-Va.) is preparing subpoenas for Justice Department (DOJ) official Bruce Ohr, his wife Nellie Ohr and Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, according to two congressional sources familiar with the matter.

The committee will also go after other current and former FBI and DOJ officials including Jim Baker, Sally Moyer, Jonathan Moffa and George Toscas, the sources said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told The Hill that Goodlatte has been in touch with the DOJ about seeking testimonies from these officials.

A Republican House Judiciary Committee aide confirmed to The Hill they plan to seek such interviews.

"We plan to interview the people [mentioned] in the coming weeks and we will issue subpoenas to compel their attendance if necessary," the aide said.

Goodlatte could issue the orders as early as this week as part of his panel’s joint investigation with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is examining FBI and DOJ decisionmaking during the 2016 presidential election.

Bruce Ohr has come under Republican scrutiny for his contacts with Simpson and former British spy Christopher Steele during the presidential campaign, a revelation that sparked demands from Trump allies for a special counsel investigation into the DOJ and the FBI last December.

Simpson hired Steele to help compile the controversial dossier that made a series of salacious allegations about President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE’s ties to Russia.

Ohr’s wife Nellie worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election, which Republicans have seized on as a possible connection that links the opposition research firm and the Justice Department.

The matter became a major flashpoint among conservatives when it was revealed that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders campaign reports raising M in less than a day The Memo: Bernie Sanders’s WH launch sharpens ‘socialist’ question Roger Stone invokes gag order in new fundraiser MORE's presidential campaign had funded some of the research included in the dossier.

Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanWhite House, GOP defend Trump emergency declaration Rod Rosenstein’s final insult to Congress: Farewell time for reporters but not testimony House conservatives blast border deal, push Trump to use executive power MORE (R-Ohio), when asked about the matter, broadly replied that Congress needs to “be talking to Bruce Ohr and Nellie Ohr."

Jordan said it was "crazy" that federal officials would be having contacts with individuals working at an opposition research firm that was digging up dirt on the Republican presidential nominee.

The FBI used Steele as a source in their application to obtain a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, according to the heavily redacted Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act application released by the DOJ last month.

Republicans have sought to discredit special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s investigation into Russian interference by claiming that officials during the beginnings of the probe overly relied on Steele as a source, someone they say had a clear bias against Trump.

While the bureau noted in their application that Steele was likely “looking for information that could be used to discredit” Trump’s campaign, they still deemed him as a “reliable” source.

The FBI continued to view Steele as reliable even after they stopped using him as a source, terminating their relationship with Steele over his improper contacts with the press.

Some of these officials, however, have already been on the radar of GOP lawmakers.

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonWhite House, GOP defend Trump emergency declaration GOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority GOP senator voices concern about Trump order, hasn't decided whether he'll back it MORE (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, wrote a letter to the Justice Department in February asking the agency to “produce all documents and communications” sent from a series of officials related to the Clinton email probe. Toscas, Moffa, Baker and former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyMcCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ Trump has publicly criticized Russia probe more than 1,100 times: NY Times MORE were all on Johnson's list, among others.

Moffa and Baker both played a role in drafting the memo Comey used to announce the bureau’s findings in the Clinton email investigation, according to documents released by the FBI last fall.

Republicans have also linked Baker to the decisionmaking related to the Steele dossier, as well as other FBI officials.

Toscas, a top DOJ official, was also involved in the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving as secretary of State.

House Intelligence Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears ‘Fox & Friends’ host asks if McCabe opening FBI probe into Trump was attempt to ‘overthrow government’ Nunes says GOP lawmakers looking through Russia transcripts, will make DOJ referrals MORE (R-Calif.) earlier this week seemed to tease the possibility of Bruce Ohr becoming the next major focus of GOP scrutiny, telling Fox News host Sean Hannity that Ohr will become "more and more important."

“I think people should pay close attention to it,” Nunes told Hannity on Monday.

-- Updated at 9:29 p.m.