Two of the leaders of the secret program were top Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr and former British spy Christopher Steele, both of whom have been repeatedly attacked by President Donald Trump.
Ohr said he met in late 2017 with two senior Justice Department officials, Scott Schools and James Crowell, who told him they were unhappy he had not proactively disclosed his meetings with Steele.
Citing current and former officials and associates of Deripaska, the Times reported that investigators were hoping for information from Deripaska on Russian organized crime during a September 2015 meeting and, in a meeting a year later, on possible Russian aid to Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.
He argued she was paid a lot of money to gather opposition research on his campaign while she worked for Fusion GPS -the firm behind the discredited Steele dossier. Both the dossier and Ohr have come under criticism from Republicans, who believe that the Federal Bureau of Investigation improperly relied on its contents in seeking surveillance warrants on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. They discussed the matter when meeting for breakfast on July 30, 2016, according to the report. Trump supporters accuse Ohr of cooperating with Steele on the dossier that outlined Russian financial ties and salacious personal details.More news: Video of Aretha Franklin's last public performance surfaces
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It was unclear from Ohr's interview with lawmakers whether Steele had been directly told that or had picked up the information through his contacts.
The communications between Ohr and Steele were marked "law enforcement sensitive" because they related "to a confidential human source", the Democratic lawmakers said.
Trump has called the Russian Federation investigation a "witch hunt" and has denied any collusion between his campaign and Moscow. The investigation's lead agent, Peter Strzok, told lawmakers last month that "it was not Mr. Ohr who provided the initial documents that I became aware of in mid-September". "With Bruce Ohr, do you see him as potentially being in this pattern?"
Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores declined to comment.