Nellie Ohr: Ham radio not used for Russia contacts

A transcript made public on Thursday by a GOP lawmaker in Congress shows that the wife of a top Justice Department official said she got a ham radio license as part of an effort to help with local community emergencies, not as part of any effort to communicate with anyone overseas, or to monitor broadcasts from Russia associated with the Steele Dossier.

"Have you ever communicated with anyone in Russia using your Ham radio?" Ohr was asked by one GOP investigator in the October 19, 2018 interview.

"No," Ohr replied, as she told lawmakers she had the lowest level ham radio license, which offers few frequencies to licensed amateur radio operators that would support contacts across the Atlantic Ocean.

Asked why a woman in her 50's would get a ham radio license, Ohr said the reason for her interest in amateur radio was spurred by a desire to support local volunteer emergency communications.

"I took a citizens emergency - community emergency response team training," Ohr said in a closed door interview conducted in October of 2018, saying it had been sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security 'and the local fire department.'

"And so I took the Ham radio class," Ohr testified. "I passed the test."

Ohr lives in Fairfax County, Virginia, which has an active Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program, that includes amateur radio classes designed to integrate local ham radio operators into emergency response efforts.

"I saw an ad for the community emergency response training, and I thought, now is a good time for me to do it," Ohr added, as GOP questioners asked only a few questions about her ham radio license, and then dropped the subject.

In the interview, Nellie Ohr was asked about her contacts with Christopher Steele, the former British Intelligence agent employed by Fusion GPS to investigate ties between then-candidate Donald Trump and Russia.

Ohr said she met with Steele one time while she was employed at Fusion GPS, at a lunch meeting at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., on July 30, 2016.

"What did you talk about?" asked Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).

"His suspicions that Russian government figures were supporting the candidacy of Donald Trump," Ohr replied.

Ohr said Steele "was very concerned that his research had led him to the conclusion that Russian government figures had for a number of years been promoting the potential - a potential presidency of Donald Trump."

"When I eventually read the dossier, I recognized that argument in there," Ohr told Jordan, saying she did not see the dossier until after it had become public in early 2017.

To the disbelief of GOP lawmakers, Ohr said she had no idea that she and Steele were both doing contract work for Fusion GPS.

"So at the breakfast you learned that you and Mr. Steele are working for the same company?" asked Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC).

"Yes," Nellie Ohr replied, as she acknowledged that she had an 'aha' moment when she learned that she and Steele were both working on Russia-related matters for the same company, until the work ended in September of 2016.

Asked if she had ever provided information to the Perkins Coie law firm, the Hillary Clinton campaign, or the Democratic National Committee, Ohr said she had not - and was never told that her open-source research work on President Trump had been destined for the DNC.

"Did you work with Christopher Steele to develop what is now called the Steele dossier?" Ohr was asked.

"No," she replied, as she told investigators she was paid $55 an hour for her work, a total of a 'few tens of thousands' of dollars.