Emails recently provided to Congress by the Department of Justice (DOJ) reveal that Christopher Steele, the former British spy contracted by opposition-research firm Fusion GPS, was in regular contact with senior DOJ official Bruce Ohr as he compiled his infamous dossier on then-candidate Trump.
The emails, reviewed by the Washington Examiner, largely pertain to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, and appear to indicate that Steele was lobbying Ohr, then the fourth-ranking official at the DOJ, to help improve the billionaire aluminum magnate’s visa status.
Deripaska, who was barred from traveling to the U.S. in 2006 due to alleged ties to organized crime, is connected to Vladimir Putin and owns the massive Russian aluminum company Rusal.
“I heard from Adam WALDMAN [a Deripaska lawyer/lobbyist] yesterday that OD is applying for another official US visa ice [sic] APEC business at the end of February,” Steele wrote in a Jan. 12, 2016, email to Ohr, referring to Adam Waldman, an American lobbyist Deripaska hired to improve his diplomatic status.
In a subsequent email, Steele informs Ohr that Deripaska received a visa to travel to the U.S. and asks that Ohr “monitor” the situation should any “complications arise.”
“As far as I’m concerned, this is good news all round although as before, it would be helpful if you could monitor it and let me know if any complications arise,” Steele wrote of Deripaska’s prospective visa on February 8, 2016.
Later that month, Steele suggested that Deripaska might prove a valuable asset to the U.S. government because his reporting suggested Deripaska was not a Kremlin “tool.”
“We reckon therefore that the forthcoming [Deripaska] contact represents a good opportunity for the [U.S. Government],” said Steele.
The exact nature of Steele and Deripaska’s relationship remains unclear. Congressional investigators first exposed their connection when questioning Steele, Waldman, and FBI director Christopher Wray, as well as Steele’s London-based lawyer, Paul Hauser.
“Do you know if Christopher Steele worked for Oleg Deripaska?” Republican senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas asked Wray during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on February 13, 2018.
“That’s not something I can answer,” Wray replied before saying there “might be” additional relevant information he could provide in a classified setting.