From Laguna Beach, with love.
Russia’s favorite congressman is claiming that a months-old report proves “the so-called hacking of the Democratic National Committee before last year’s elections could not have been done by Russians, but was instead an inside job made to look like Moscow’s handiwork.”
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), who House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) famously said was one of “two people I think Putin pays” besides President Trump, has long been Russia’s leading defender in Congress. He’s now out touting a report from retired intelligence officials released back in January, claiming it shows that Russia couldn’t have been involved.
“The findings of these specialists destroy the credibility of the charges that Russia hacked the system, disclosed the emails, and thus greatly impacted the outcome of the last election,”Rohrabacher said in a press release from his congressional office. “These bogus charges have done great damage to our ability to work with Russia and have distracted the American people from the real threat of radical Islamic terrorism. This phony campaign has been used to disrupt the right of our new president to accomplish his goals and set the policies approved by the American voters.”
Rohrabacher said in his Thursday press release that he’d circulated the report by retired intelligence officials among his GOP colleagues to push back on the bipartisan consensus that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.
That report, however, came out months ago, before Trump was even inaugurated. And rather than offer any evidence that the entire U.S. intelligence community’s analysis that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election to help boost Trump over Hillary Clinton was wrong, it only questions those findings and called on Trump to get to the bottom of things.
Rohrabacher has long been a strident Russia defender — and the FBI reportedly warned him back in 2012 that Russian spies were trying to recruit him as an asset. The congressman brags that he once lost a drunken arm-wrestling match with now-Russian President Vladimir Putin back in the 1990s, and has defended many Russian actions viewed as dangerous by other politicians, including its invasion of Ukraine and meddling in Syria.
But what once seemed like oddball views have taken on a new light in the wake of the past election — and Rohrabacher’s once-safely Republican seat has moved rapidly away from his party. Trump lost Rohrabacher’s district by a narrow margin last year, and House Democrats have named him as a top target in the 2018 elections.
Democrats were quick to pounce on Rohrabacher’s latest bear-hug of Russia.
“Congressman Rohrabacher’s representation of Russia instead of his constituents has long been seen as a comical distraction by Republican leadership in Washington. But with the American intelligence community having already stated that Russia attempted to influence our election, and a mounting pile of evidence showing that he has done Vladimir Putin’s bidding in Washington, Congressman Rohrabacher’s peddling in conspiracies and lies to protect his Russian puppeteers is outrageous,” a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman said in a statement.