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 JordanMeadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader House Republicans want details on Democrats' trips to Mexico GOP lawmakers, states back gunmaker in Sandy Hook appeal 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 TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border 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 ClintonGOP struggles with retirement wave Overnight Energy: Trump to revoke California's tailpipe waiver | Democrats propose bill to revoke Trump endangered species rollback | Trump officials finalize rule allowing fewer inspectors at pork plants Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? 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 MeadowsGOP struggles with retirement wave Lewandowski, Democrats tangle at testy hearing Meadows, Cotton introduce bill to prevent district judges from blocking federal policy changes 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 MuellerFox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal 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.