While special counsel Robert Mueller has concluded there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, some of the key people in creating the Russia-collusion narrative themselves have ties to a foreign nation.
Both the Democratic National Committee as well as Fusion GPS, the company hired by the DNC and the Clinton campaign to research the Trump campaign, were using Ukrainian sources in their efforts to discredit Trump.
Serhiy Leshchenko, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, was a common thread involved in Democratic opposition-research efforts into former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Leshchenko, along with Artem Sytnyk, the director of Ukraine's National Anti-Corruption Bureau, was responsible for publicly disclosing the contents of the Ukrainian "black ledger," which implicated Manafort, to the media.
Leshchenko also served as a source for various individuals, including journalist Michael Isikoff and DNC operative Alexandra Chalupa. In addition, Leshchenko served as a direct source of information for Fusion GPS and their hired researcher, former CIA contractor Nellie Ohr.
Ohr told congressional investigators on October 19, 2018, that while she was working for Fusion, she was sometimes given leads from both Jake Berkowitz, her direct supervisor, and Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson. When asked if any Fusion research was based off "sources of theirs," Nellie answered affirmatively but said the information that came from the sources wasn't in relation to the Trump family.
When pressed, Nellie said she recalled them "mentioning someone named Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian." She later admitted she knew of Leshchenko prior to her time at Fusion as he was a "very well-known, Ukrainian, anti-corruption activist", and said she had followed him in the press.
Leshchenko revealed the existence in 2016 of the so-called Ukrainian "black ledger," which allegedly contained a list of secret payments made by Ukraine's pro-Russian Party of Regions to Manafort, among many others.
Leshchenko had adopted a strong anti-Trump stance, telling the Financial Times in August 2016 that "a Trump presidency would change the pro-Ukrainian agenda in American foreign policy" and that it was "important to show not only the corruption aspect, but that he is [a] pro-Russian candidate who can break the geopolitical balance in the world." Leschenko noted that the majority of Ukrainian politicians were "on Hillary Clinton's side."
Nellie Ohr said she wasn't aware how the connection between Leshchenko and Fusion was established or if they were doing work for him, but she did agree that Leshchenko was "a source of information" and acknowledged that she then used that information in following up and formulating her opposition research.
Later in Ohr's testimony, Leshchenko was briefly mentioned once again. She appeared to be very careful with her choice of wording, especially when Manafort's name came up:
Ms. Sachsman Grooms: You mentioned that, at some point, somebody from Fusion GPS told you that they were giving you a tip that was based off of a source that was a Ukrainian source, Serhiy Leshchenko. Is that right?
Ms. Ohr: Yes. That they were, that they were giving me some information that had originated with him in some way.
Ms. Sachsman Grooms: Do you recall whether that information related to Mr. Manafort?
Ms. Ohr: What I'll say is that at the time at the same meeting, if I recall correctly, that his name came up, this piece of paper that lists Mr. Manafort's flights was given to me, and I'm not--I don't recall exactly right now whether they said this particular piece of paper comes from Mr. Leshchenko or not.
At this point, the questioning abruptly moved on and no further questions involving either Manafort or Leshchenko were put forth. Ohr was never asked if she had ever met with Leshchenko directly.The Party of Regions Email
In 2010, Nellie Ohr was listed as a participant in a June 2010 National Institute of Justice report, "Expert Working Group Report on International Organized Crime." Listed on the same page were husband Bruce Ohr and Simpson, who was, at the time, a "Senior Fellow, International Assessment and Strategy Center."
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