Former U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) is well-known for his pro-Kremlin views; he reportedly has his own Kremlin code name, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy once said that “there’s two people [he thinks] Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” Rohrabacher’s name has come up in the course of the Mueller investigation, as Mueller has reportedly expressed interest in a November 2016 meeting between Rohrabacher and Michael Flynn.
Rohrabacher gained his reputation through decades of advocating for pro-Russia policies. His activities did not go unnoticed by the FBI, who warned Rohrabacher in 2012 that Russian agents may have been attempting to recruit him. Rohrabacher serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats; in this capacity, he has downplayed reports of Russian meddling, advocated an end to U.S. sanctions on Russia, and called for further investigations into the debunked scandal surrounding the Uranium One deal.
In April 2016, Rohrabacher traveled to Moscow. During this trip he met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who also attended the June 9, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower. Veselnitskaya reportedly passed him a memo alleging that an American investment firm had “illegally purchased shares in a Russian company and evaded tens of millions of dollars in Russian taxes,” and that this firm was linked to two major donors to the Clinton campaign and to William Browder, whose involvement in the Magnitsky Act has turned him into the focus of a Russian smear campaign. Veselnitskaya also gave a copy of this memo to a U.S. Representative from Arkansas, and brought a similar document to the June 9 meeting. Rohrabacher’s Moscow trip was arranged by his controversial former staffer Paul Behrends, whose previous work has linked him to Blackwater founder Erik Prince, as well as Jack Abramoff, and who has been described as “the chief Capitol Hill contact for the lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and the lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin.”
Rohrabacher continued to meet with Russian-linked individuals after the election. In February 2017, he reportedly had dinner with Russian banker Alexander Torshin, who previously had tried to set up a meeting between Putin and Trump and met with Donald Trump, Jr., at an NRA convention in 2016. In April 2017, Rohrabacher met with Rinat Akhmetshin, who also attended the June 9 meeting. At this meeting, which took place in Berlin, the two men reportedly discussed the then-ongoing money laundering lawsuit involving Prevezon Holdings (represented in court by Natalia Veselnitskaya); the Justice Department unexpectedly settled the case the next month. In August 2017, Rohrabacher also met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange; after the meeting, Rohrabacher reportedly attempted to broker a deal in which the US would drop its investigation into Assange in exchange for evidence that Russia was not the source of the hacked DNC and Podesta emails.
Rohrabacher was defeated in the 2018 midterm elections. Democrat Harley Rouda was declared the winner of the district on December 10, 2018.