Republicans threaten to subpoena Nellie Ohr

Conservative House Republicans are calling on their colleagues to subpoena Nellie Ohr, the wife of Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, after a deal fell apart this week that would have led to her voluntary testimony. 

“Now that Nellie Ohr is not coming in it is time to subpoena her and get her in as soon as possible,” Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanHillicon Valley: Lawmakers seek 'time out' on facial recognition tech | DHS asks cybersecurity staff to volunteer for border help | Judge rules Qualcomm broke antitrust law | Bill calls for 5G national security strategy Lawmakers call for 'time out' on facial recognition tech Amazon shareholders vote down limits on facial recognition software MORE (R-Ohio) said in an interview with The Hill.

He called it “unfortunate” that Ohr would not come in as planned on Friday for a deposition. 

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A Republican House Judiciary Committee aide separately told The Hill that the committee will use its subpoena power to try to compel Ohr to testify if she does not agree to do so voluntarily.

It’s unclear why the deal fell apart to have Ohr interviewed behind closed doors with the House Judiciary and House Oversight and Government Reform committees.

“Last week, we thought Nellie Ohr was going to be in for a deposition tomorrow. We thought she was coming in this Friday. Turns out she isn’t. That is unfortunate,” Jordan said during a phone interview.

GOP lawmakers are also threatening to subpoena Jim Baker, former FBI general counsel, if he does not agree to testify voluntarily. Baker had initially planned to meet with the committee in late August.

“The Committee continues to seek the testimony of Nellie Ohr and Jim Baker and will compel their testimony if necessary,” the Republican House Judiciary Committee aide told The Hill.

The Hill has reached out to Nellie Ohr's lawyer for comment. A spokesperson for Baker did not respond to a request for comment.

A Democratic spokesperson from the House Oversight Committee pushed back at the idea that either Ohr or Baker were refusing to testify.

"We understand from her counsel that she is willing to come in, so any reference to a subpoena was a surprise to us," the spokesperson told The Hill. "Also, Baker was scheduled to come in and had to reschedule because of a medical issue, but we have no reason to think that he isn’t willing to come in, and there would be no reason to subpoena him either."
 
The Ohrs have come under increasing GOP scrutiny for their ties to a controversial dossier that makes a series of salacious and unverified allegations about President TrumpDonald John TrumpFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign MORE, and possible ties between Trump and Russia.

Republicans have alleged that Nellie Ohr could have passed the dossier on to her husband, then a top official with the Department of Justice, when she worked for the opposition research firm Fusion GPS as a contractor during the 2016 presidential campaign. A lawyer on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHarris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote 2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests MORE’s presidential campaign is believed to have retained Fusion GPS during the election to dig up dirt on Trump, then the Republican presidential contender.

Conservatives argue that Bruce Ohr’s ties to Fusion GPS through his wife support their claims that there was bias against Trump within the FBI and DOJ. Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS, had hired former British spy Christopher Steele to help compile the memos about Trump’s ties to Russia.

 “We know that Nellie Ohr knows more about what went on with Fusion GPS and the infamous Democrat paid-for dossier,” Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsHillicon Valley: Lawmakers seek 'time out' on facial recognition tech | DHS asks cybersecurity staff to volunteer for border help | Judge rules Qualcomm broke antitrust law | Bill calls for 5G national security strategy Lawmakers call for 'time out' on facial recognition tech DeVos family of Michigan ends support for Amash MORE (R-N.C.) told The Hill in an interview on Thursday.

The Ohrs have become targets of the White House.

On Monday, President Trump announced his decision to declassify a series of sensitive documents related to the Russia investigation, including FBI reports of interviews with Bruce Ohr. 

House Republicans, including Meadows and Jordan, had appealed directly to Trump to release the documents earlier this month, saying the records will support their claims that the Russia probe has been tainted by political bias.

Republicans have sought to discredit special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerHouse progressive: Pelosi 'has it right' on impeachment Democrats talk subpoena for Mueller Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna: 'I'm not there yet' on impeachment MORE’s investigation into Russian interference by claiming that officials during the beginnings of the probe overly relied on Steele as a source in their efforts to obtain a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. They argue Steele showed clear bias against Trump.

This story was updated at 9:59 a.m.