UPDATE NO. 2, JULY 14, 12:17 P.M.: Another day, another troubling Russia-Dana Rohrabacher disclosure.
The latest comes from the Associated Press, which reports that Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian lobbyist and former counter-intelligence member, says that he also sat in on the controversial meeting attended by Kremlin-linked attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. This is significant to Rep. Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Nyet) because of the Slimin’ Congressman’s own ties to Akhmetshin. It’s been previously reported that the pair met multiple times to discuss a federal money-laundering case involving a firm Russian prosecutor Sergei Magnitsky was investigating before he was arrested by Russian authorities and mysteriously died in a Moscow prison in 2009. That’s what led to the Magnitsky Act, a bipartisan bill passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Obama in 2012 to punish Russian officials responsible for the prosecutor’s death. Vladimir Putin has been lobbying to get the legislation shitcanned ever since. For instance, it’s also been reported that Rohrabacher met last year with Veselnitskaya at the Capitol Hill Club to talk about the Magnitsky Act. Days after the meeting with Trump Jr., she sat in the front row of Rohrabacher’s committee hearing on U.S. policy toward Putin’s Russia, a land that now makes former Soviet basher Dana’s naughty bits tingle.
Naturally, today’s AP report caught the eye of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that is seeking to oust Rohrabacher and other Orange County Republicans from their House seats. “Representative Dana Rohrabacher has long been known as a cheerleader for Vladimir Putin–even as the Russian leader has worked to hamstring democracy in his country, invaded neighboring countries and imprisoned political opponents and journalists,” says DCCC spokesman Drew Godinich. “After multiple American intelligence agencies agreed that Russia conspired to undermine the election last November, Dana Rohrabacher preferred to parrot the Kremlin party line–dismissing stories around their interference as ‘fake news.’ As evidence continues to mount that the Trump campaign may have colluded with Russia last year, Dana Rohrabacher should fully disclose his connections to these shadowy Russian figures and come clean to his constituents.”
UPDATE NO. 1, JULY 13, 1:27 P.M.: In today’s San Francisco Chronicle, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Putin’s Lair) calls Donald Trump Jr.’s emails and subsequent meeting with an attorney with ties to the Russian government “still a nothingburger” and “the same old fake news.”
Orange County’s career congresshole, member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee panel that oversees Russian relations and Putin/Russia’s strongest supporter on Capitol Hill, accused the media of making Trump Jr’s. meeting “sound sinister.” The Mouth That Rohrabachered reportedly huffed and puffed, “Anybody in public life needs to listen to anybody who says they have something important to talk about, no matter what it is, no matter who they are.” Must be news to all his Invincible constituents who can’t get him to talk to them publicly about health care. Trump Jr., added the Issue Surfin’ Congressman, was merely “listening to somebody. That’s what all this is.”
Not buying Rohrabacher’s whitewashing of the Trump Jr. scandal is one of the announced Democratic opponents for the congressman’s 48th district seat. “Congressman Rohrabacher has given us another honest look at what remains his priority: defending the Trump campaign’s communications with the Russian government,” said Dr. Hans Keirstead, a cancer specialist by profession, in an email. “The citizens of Orange County deserve a representative that is focused on the people here, not an absent, Washington D.C. politician who is more concerned with defending Russian interests on national television than meeting with his constituents face to face.”
Defending Rohrabacher and other Orange County GOP congressmen for their handling of the Trump-Russia scandal is—natch—the National Republican Congressional Committee. “It’s sad Democrat party hacks are resorting to conspiracy theories to smear Republican congressmen,” says NRCC spokesman Jack Pandol. “We’re lucky to have representatives in Southern California fighting every day to protect us from threats around the world.”
ORIGINAL POST, JULY 13, 7:58 A.M.: A Massachusetts lawyer has filed a complaint with the House Office of Congressional Ethics and a letter to Special Counsel Robert Mueller alleging that Orange County congressmen Dana Rohrabacher and Ed Royce received illegal payments from pro-Russia Ukrainian groups.
J. Whitfield Larrabee says while he was pursuing a case aimed at stripping the Connecticut law license of Paul Manafort—who was Donald Trump’s campaign manager for two months until it was disclosed he received $12.7 million in off-the-books funds from the pro-Russian centrist Ukraine Party of Regions—he discovered payments from the Party of Regions and the pro-Russian European Centre For a Modern Ukraine to Royce (R-Fullerton), Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) and Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho).
Payments totaling $2,500 to Rohrabacher’s campaign war chest were funneled through Manafort and Mercury Public Affairs lobbyists John Vin Weber and Edward Kutler and from the lobbyists’ clients the Ukraine Party of Regions and European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, says Larrabee, who points to Federal Election Commission records that also show Royce’s campaign received more than $6,500 from Kutler and other Mercury partners in much the same fashion.
As the chairman and a longstanding member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee respectively, Royce and Rohrabacher knew that accepting contributions from foreign nationals was prohibited under federal law, Larrabee charges. These payments to Rohrabacher came a year after the FBI warned him that Russian spies were trying to recruit him.
Larrabee contends the contributions violate the Federal Election Campaign Act, which prohibits foreign nationals from making campaign donations to candidates for federal office. The same law has been raised after the stunning disclosure that Manafort, Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner met with Russian intermediary during the presidential campaign—after months of vehement denials of the same.
Here is the complaint to the House Office of Congressional Ethics.
[pdf-1]Here is the letter to Mueller.
[pdf-2]”It is likely that other Senators, Representatives, lobbyists, foreign agents and foreign nationals also participated in this expansive criminal scheme,” Larrabee writes.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has been pouring resources into Orange County because it smells the blood of Republican House members in our waters, is also turning up the heat on Rohrabacher and Russia. This timeline of events comes from DCCC spokesman Drew Godinich:
· March 19, 2013 – Rohrabacher met with Paul Manafort and Mercury LLC’s Vin Weber, who Manafort recommended to work on behalf of Yanukovych. Initially, Weber lied about Manafort’s involvement in the meeting.
· March 19, 2013 – Rohrabacher received a contribution from Mercury’s Ed Kutler.
· March 22, 2013 – Rohrabacher received contributions from Paul Manafort and Mercury’s Vin Weber.
· 2013 – Mercury LLC, failed to file as a Foreign Agent, but disclosed their lobbying activities through the Clerk of the House of Representatives.
· 2013 – Rohrabacher did not act on legislation Mercury opposed. Two pieces of legislation Mercury lobbied on stalled in Rohrabacher’s subcommittee. They were introduced February 25, 2013.
· January 29, 2014 – Rohrabacher spoke out against legislation Mercury opposed in committee.
· March 2014 – Rohrabacher spoke out against the Ukraine Support Act and defended Putin on the House floor. He also urged Congress not to focus on Ukraine and instead focus on Radical Islam.
The Russia scandal also has Royce hearing from an announced candidate for his office. Democrat Phil Janowicz on Wednesday called on Royce, as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to hold public hearings on the controversy engulfing the Trump White House.
“The newest revelation that a son of the President, who was intimately involved in the President’s campaign, met with foreign nationals to influence the outcome has numerous ethical and legal liabilities,” Janowicz says in a statement. “Chairman Royce needs to bring this issue before his committee immediately for a full hearing. If Barack Obama were still president, we know the hearing would already be scheduled. Ed Royce needs to put his country before his party and fulfill his public obligation.”
Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) and Darrell Issa (R-Vista) join Royce and Rohrabacher in being called out by the DCCC over the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with the Russian government.
“It’s time for a straightforward answer to a simple question: Do Reps. Darrell Issa, Dana Rohrabacher, Ed Royce and Mimi Walters now believe the Trump campaign colluded with Russia?” Godinich writes. “This goes beyond partisan politics and Reps. Issa, Rohrabacher, Royce and Walters must show leadership on this important issue.
“American intelligence agencies have already determined Russia worked to undermine our elections last year and now there is proof that Trump campaign officials were willing and eager accomplices. Reps. Issa, Rohrabacher, Royce and Walters should have the courage to say so.”
Godinich earlier took a stab at Rohrabacher for the Surfin’ Congressman’s chummy ties to disgraced GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who earlier this year tried to get Dana to secure contacts between the government of the Republic of the Congo and the Trump Administration.
While it’s a shock … SHOCK to Godinich that Rohrabacher in February called convicted felon Abramoff “a patriot,” it really shouldn’t be because the congressman stuck by his pal’s side throughout his legal ordeal, claiming Abramoff was wrongfully convicted long after others wrote him off.
“The fact that Congressman Rohrabacher would partner with a man like Abramoff speaks volumes about his character,” Godinich says, “and the three decades he’s spent in D.C. failing to deliver for his constituents.”
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.