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Judicial Watch Sues DOJ Twice for Withholding Documents Related to Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele

The Justice Department was sued twice Monday for information related to the compilation of the controversial Steele dossier.

Filed by conservative government watchdog group Judicial Watch, one lawsuit specifically requests all records related to Bruce Ohr’s potential participation in compiling the Steele dossier. The other lawsuit specifically requests information regarding Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, and what role, if any, she played in the construction of the dossier.

Bruce Ohr was previously the fourth-ranked official at the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and a formal contact for Christopher Steele. Nellie Ohr was a Fusion GPS employee who assisted in the dossier’s compilation. Bruce Ohr is alleged to have passed some of the dossier’s information along to the FBI and was later demoted for concealing his contacts with Fusion GPS from his superiors.

The lawsuits are based on emailed FOIA requests filed December 7, 2017 and December 12, 2017, respectively.

According to those lawsuits and a press release obtained by Law&Crime, regarding Bruce Ohr, Judicial Watch initially requested:

a) All records of contact or communication, including but not limited to emails, text messages, and instant chats between Bruce Ohr and any of the following individuals/entities: former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele; owner of Fusion GPS Glenn Simpson; and any other employees or representatives of Fusion GPS. b) All travel requests, authorizations and expense reports for Bruce Ohr. c) All calendar entries for Bruce Ohr.

As to Nellie Ohr, the second lawsuit requests:

a) Any and all records of communication, including but not limited to emails, text messages and instant chats, between DOJ officials in the Attorney General’s Office and Fusion GPS employee or contractor Nellie H. Ohr. b) Any and all records of communications, including but not limited to emails, text messages and instant chats, between DOJ officials in the Attorney General’s Office and Fusion GPS employee or contractor Nellie H. Ohr.

The lawsuits note, “The time frame for the requested records…is January 1, 2015 to the present.”

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, in comments provided to Law&Crime, “A top Justice Department official in the Obama administration had an obvious conflict of interest through his wife Nellie’s work with the Clinton/DNC vendor Fusion GPS on the anti-Trump Dossier. The Justice Department needs to come clean about this scandal and turn over the documents as federal law requires.”

Notably, neither of Judicial Watch’s lawsuits mention Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who heads the DOJ.

In their filings, Judicial Watch allege the Department of Justice improperly failed to adequately respond to the December FOIA requests. Citing the FOIA statute–located at 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(B)–Judicial Watch specifically alleges that the Department of Justice violated statutory time-limits imposed on federal agencies under FOIA laws.

In alleging the above violations, Judicial Watch is seeking declaratory relief that the Department of Justice is in violation of FOIA for failing to respond fully to the group’s records request. Judicial Watch is also seeking injunctive relief ordering the Department of Justice to process and release the requested records immediately and in their entirety.

[image via screengrab/CBS]

Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher

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