More than a year ago, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was caught *oops* on a hot mic saying that there were two people in Washington who were being paid by the Russians — Donald Trump and California GOP. Rep Dana Rohrabacher. Sadly, those two people are still in office.
A new report by the New York Times, though, confirms half of McCarthy’s comments. Rohrabacher isn’t just being paid by the Russians, he’s a Russian agent, and he has a code name, and it’s not even new information.
According to the Times report, the FBI warned Rohrbacher in 2012 that the Russians viewed him as a source and had given him a code name. The next year, Congress elevated him to the chairmanship of the Foreign Affairs subcommittee that overseas Russian policy. Nope, nothing at all fishy there.
Rohrabacher didn’t seem to have much involvement in the Trump campaign (that would be too obvious, even for the Russians), but Special Investigator Robert Mueller is eyeing him nonetheless:
As revelations of Russia’s campaign to influence American politics consume Washington, Mr. Rohrabacher, 70, who had no known role in the Trump election campaign, has come under political and investigative scrutiny. The F.B.I. and the Senate Intelligence Committee are each seeking to interview him about an August meeting with Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, Mr. Rohrabacher said. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is said to be interested in a meeting he had last year with Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s short-lived national security adviser.
Rohrabacher’s Russian connections go back further than just a few years, though. As a young Reaganite, he got the warm fuzzies with the fall of the Soviet Union and he developed a relationship with Vladimir Putin. In the 90s, Rohrabacher lost an arm wrestling match to the man who would become President for life, or whatever the hell Putin calls himself.
Rohrabacher, naturally, denies that he is a Russian agent:
Mr. Rohrabacher has laughed off suggestions that he is a Russian asset, and said in an interview that he did not remember being briefed that the Russians viewed him as a source. The F.B.I. and the senior members of the House Intelligence Committee sat Mr. Rohrabacher down in the Capitol in 2012 to warn him that Russian spies were trying to recruit him, according to two former intelligence officials.
“I remember them telling me, ‘You have been targeted to be recruited as an agent,’” he said. “How stupid is that?”
Only, his actions paint a very different picture. In 2016, he served as what might be called a delivery boy between Russia and either the Trump campaign or the RNC. He picked up a memo targeting Democratic donors. Rohrabacher has also met with Wikileaks’ Julian Assange and Russian (accused criminal) oligarchs.
Rohrabacher insists nothing untoward is going on. His goal, he says, is to bring Russia in to help us battle terrorism. To be fair, Russia could help rein in terrorism, but they would have to stop funding terrorists, like Syrian President Bashir Assad.
Republicans are finding it a bit easier to distance themselves from Rohrabacher than the other alleged Russian agent, Donald Trump. They are limiting his power on the Foreign Affairs committee.
Politically, this could be disaster for Rohrabacher. He’s facing a tough race in California, and you’d better believe that his opponents are using his Russian connections against him.
Hans Keirstead, a prominent stem-cell researcher competing with five other Democrats to challenge Mr. Rohrabacher, compared the Republican’s Russia record to “a prologue to a very bad book.”
“We’ve got a Russian-tainted congressman,” Mr. Keirstead said in an interview, adding “Why should the constituents of the 48th District vote for an individual whose interests are elsewhere?”
Of course, Rohrabacher, like anyone who’s been trained in dictator 101, is fundraising off of it, calling it an “attack.”
Featured image via Adam Berry/Getty Images.