The strange career of Nellie H. Ohr, a veteran of Fusion GPS.

Justice Department boss Bruce Ohr rose from obscurity when it became known that in 2016 he was embedded with Fusion GPS, compiler of the dossier on Donald Trump. Bruce’s wife Nellie H. Ohr also worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election, and quite possibly played a strategic role. 

Nellie is the daughter of Kathleen Armstrong Hauke, “a born journalist,” who wrote books about Ted Poston. Kathleen “inscribed multilingual quotations on the walls of her home,” and her daughter Nellie Hauke also showed linguistic flair. 

She earned a degree in history and Russian literature at Harvard and Radcliff, followed by an MA and PhD in history from Stanford. She taught history at Vassar College then worked as an independent contractor conducting research and translation projects on topics in Russian science and technology. Her publications include “After Collectivization: Social Capital and Local Politics in Rural Western Russia, 1933-1937.”  Nellie also honed her Russian language skills on location.

She was there in 1989, as Cathy Frierson noted in Adventures in Russian Historical Research Reminiscences of American Scholars from the Cold War to the Present. “Only rarely did I go to the Lenin Library,” Frierson recalled, “but one day there I had a fortuitous meeting with Nellie Hauke Ohr. She told me she had just returned from Smolensk, where she enjoyed remarkable access in the region archive to materials related to the collectivization campaign.” 

According to the author, “Nellie encouraged me to call the Smolensk archive director, assuring me that he would welcome me.”  So even before the fall of the USSR, Nellie held clout with government officials and could write about Russia with authority. 

Nellie reviewed Gerald M. Easter’s Reconstructing the State: Personal Networks and Elite Identity in Soviet Russia, with “lucid and engaging conclusions on the causes of the rise and fall of the Soviet state and on state-building in general.”  Nellie also reviewed Bertrand Patenaude’s The Big Show in Bololand: The American Relief Expedition to Soviet Russia in the Famine of 1921.This famine, Hauke Ohr wrote, “devastated that country on the heels of World War I, revolution, and civil war” and “left perhaps twenty million people hungry and killed one or two million.” 

Patenaude mentions Walter Duranty, the New York Times Moscow correspondent who covered up Stalin’s deadlier 1932 forced famine in Ukraine. Nellie describes Duranty as “an inveterate liar,” and agrees that he served up “choice bits of fantasy.” Nellie shows a light touch, comparing Patenaude’s book to M*A*S*H with its “picaresque plot line, its romantic subplots, and its odd characters.” A film on the book, Nellie explains, “would be well worth watching.” 

Nellie H. Ohr is also a member of Women in International Security (WIIS but pronounced “wise”) which bills itself as “the premier organization in the world dedicated to advancing the leadership and development of women in the field of international peace and security.” WIIS “supports research projects and policy engagement initiatives on critical international security issues, including the nexus between gender and security.” 

Nellie has also worked for in the cybersecurity consulting branch of the politically connected firm Accenture. In October, she gave a presentation on “Ties Between Government Intelligence Services and Cyber Criminals – Closer Than You Think?” So the multifaceted Nellie Ohr is a woman for all seasons.  

In the spring of 2016, Nellie came to work for Fusion GPS, and as former Naval intelligence officer J.E. Dyer notes, “she looks like an ideal hire for what Fusion GPS needed in 2016: plugged directly into the DOJ, and with a language facility in Russian.” And of course, Nellie had clout with Russian officials. In May of 2016, about the time Fusion GPS brought Nellie aboard, and a key time for the dossier, Nellie suddenly obtained an amateur radio operator’s license. 

Dyer believes it significant that the cyber intrusion on the DNC email system was detected on April 29, 2016. Without getting fanciful, Dyer writes, “one can obviously think of more than one reason why the use of amateur radio for communications with certain parties might have seemed like a good idea at that point, to at least some of the people involved.” As Dyer says “only a fool would fail to look into it.”

The US intelligence community includes some 17 agencies and only a fool would fail to see if at least one had picked up what Nellie said and heard on her radio set. Likewise, only a fool would fail to subpoena Nellie H. Ohr and her powerful DOJ husband Bruce Ohr for a he-said-she-said performance on the real story of Russian collusion. 

The way things shape up, the administration of POTUS 44, whose beloved “Frank” in Dreams from My Father was Soviet agent Frank Marshall Davis, deployed US intelligence agencies in a disinformation campaign against presidential candidate Donald Trump. The strategic weapon was the Fusion GPS dossier, with its bed-wetting pisseuse platoon.

The erudite critic Nellie Ohr might praise the picaresque plot line, the romantic subplots, the odd characters and the “choice bits of fantasy,” worthy of inveterate liar Walter Duranty. As Nellie said, this would be a show well worth watching.

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