Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) told a journalist on Friday that “there’s not a person in this town” who wouldn’t accept a meeting like the one members of the Trump campaign took with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign.
David Corn, Mother Jones’ Washington bureau chief, reported Monday morning that he’d run into Rohrabacher on Capitol Hill on Friday.
Corn said he asked the California Republican what he thought of the recent news that Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer and lawyer, is reportedly willing to tell prosecutors that President Donald Trump knew of, and approved, members of his campaign meeting with Russians promising dirt on Clinton.
“Zero,” Rohrabacher said. “It’s a big zero.”
Corn pressed: If Cohen’s reported claims are correct, did Trump knowingly collude with a Russian operation?
“There’s not a person in this town who would not take a meeting to get material like that,” Rohrabacher said. In Corn’s words, the congressman “suggested he would.”
Pressed further, Rohrabacher said the Trump campaign hadn’t known they were meeting with what Corn called a “mobster.” “But did they know that?” Rohrabacher said, referring to the Russians’ connections to Vladimir Putin.
Corn noted that they would have known that: It was stated right an email from British publicist Rob Goldstone to Donald Trump, Jr. that the information potentially available to the Trump campaign was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump.”
Rohrabacher was similarly dismissive, Corn says, of the revelation that in 2017 he’d attended a dinner with Mariia Butina, who is now accused of conspiring to carry out an influence operation by infiltrating the NRA and conservative political circles.
“She was at the other end of table of 30 people and now they say I ‘dined’ with her,’” Rohrabacher said.
And what of the news that Butina had set up a meeting in 2015 between Rohrabacher and her alleged handler, Russian central banker Alexander Torshin?
Rohrabacher, Corn said, acknowledged that Butina was at his meeting with Torshin, but that he’d never met her.
“This is fake news,” he said of the case against Butina. “The charges are B.S. She was just a gofer.”