Friday is emerging as the most likely date for the interview, according to congressional aides. Nellie Ohr is expected to meet with staffers of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees.
Nellie Ohr worked as a contractor for Fusion GPS, the research firm that hired former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele to investigate allegations about then-candidate Donald Trump’s personal and business ties to Russia. She is married to Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department official who met with Steele on several occasions to discuss Steele’s findings — information eventually compiled into the now-famous “dossier.”
The president and his allies in Congress have accused federal law enforcement officials of basing their investigation of Trump and Russia on the dossier, an accusation the FBI and the Justice Department deny.
Lawmakers and staffers for the two committees questioned Bruce Ohr about Steele and the dossier during a closed-door session last month. After that meeting, Republican lawmakers called on the president to go around the Justice Department to declassify the official memos detailing Ohr’s meetings with Steele, among other documents.
On Monday, the White House announced that Trump had approved their request.
The president has suggested that Bruce Ohr should be fired and that Nellie Ohr was guilty of “collusion” meant to discredit Trump.
“Wow, Nellie Ohr, Bruce Ohr’s wife, is a Russia expert who is fluent in Russian,” Trump tweeted last month. “She worked for Fusion GPS where she was paid a lot. Collusion! Bruce was a boss at the Department of Justice and is, unbelievably, still there!”
Nellie Ohr is a self-described Eurasian analyst and cybersecurity expert who received her doctorate in history from Stanford University, focusing on Russia. Her LinkedIn profile indicates that she has worked as a linguist and researcher for Open Source Works, which analyzes intelligence for the CIA.
Bruce Ohr was a relatively unknown employee of the Justice Department for most of his 27-year career, starting as a federal prosecutor and eventually running the department’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces. He was demoted after questions arose about his relationship with Steele but continues to be employed there.
The interview with Nellie Ohr, if it takes place this week, is expected to be run by staffers for the committees, as House members are not scheduled to return to Washington from their recess until Sept. 25.
Such interviews have been heated and divisive, as Republicans allied with Trump have focused on exposing what they say are the compromised foundations of the special counsel’s probe. Democrats accuse the GOP of orchestrating an inquisition purely to enable any potential effort by Trump to terminate the probe.
Clarification: This story was updated to make clear that lawmakers are investigating the origins of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe, that the interview of Bruce Ohr was attended by lawmakers as well as committee staff, and that it’s Trump’s allies in Congress who’ve been focused on exposing what they say was a faulty case for launching the inquiry of Trump’s campaign.