It’s been obvious for years that former red-baiting Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) man crushes on former KGB official Vladimir Putin, and now there is fresh evidence about their mutual affection thanks to a report on the Russian president supposedly having paid the congressman as well as President Donald Trump.
The revelation comes from the Washington Post having obtained a transcript of a conversation between leaders of the House, including Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), who drops this bombshell: “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.”
When members of the group laughed, McCarthy interjected, “Swear to God.”
It is uncanny that the Post posted the transcript the same day the Justice Department picked former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel in the federal Trump-Russia investigation, prompting the president to vow he will ultimately be cleared of any collusion with the Ruskies.
Even more incredible is the House leadership exchange happened on June 15, 2016. It was right after the participants emerged from talks with the Ukrainian prime minister, who laid out a Kremlin tactic of financing populist politicians to undercut democratic institutions in Eastern Europe. McCarthy mentioned Putin payoffs to Trump and Rohrabacher a day after the Post reported on Russians hacking into the Democratic National Committee computer network. And this was a month before Trump clinched the GOP nomination and seven months before, as president, he was considering Rohrabacher for Secretary of State.
The transcript goes on to have Ryan instructing his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private. “No leaks,” he says. “… This is how we know we’re a real family here.”
The Post‘s Adam Entous:
The conversation provides a glimpse at the internal views of GOP leaders who now find themselves under mounting pressure over the conduct of President Trump. The exchange shows that the Republican leadership in the House privately discussed Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election and Trump’s relationship to Putin, but wanted to keep their concerns secret. It is difficult to tell from the recording the extent to which the remarks were meant to be taken literally.
Nyet, says Ryan and McCarthy, you are not supposed to take it literally because—now that the chat has gone public—they claim it was just a joke between the girls, pointing to the laughter that broke out among leaders (while failing to mention McCarthy’s sober “Swear to God.”).
Not buying that explanation is California-based Courage Campaign Executive Director Eddie Kurtz, who says, “For once, it appears McCarthy told the truth.”
Rohrabacher’s spokesman Ken Grubbs told the Post that his boss has been a consistent advocate of “working closer with the Russians to combat radical Islamism. The congressman doesn’t need to be paid to come to such a necessary conclusion.”
But Harley Rouda, who plans to run for Rohrabacher’s seat next year, says the FBI should investigate what ties the congressman has to Russia.
The revelation comes after Sabato’s Crystal Ball, one of the nation’s leading elections forecasting blogs, recently announced that Rohrabacher is more vulnerable to being turned out by voters than ever. The new ratings have his district shifting from “Likely Republican” to “Leans Republican.”
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.