Dana Rohrabacher

Dana Rohrabacher official photo
Dana Rohrabacher

Dana Rohrabacher is a Republican representative from California and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In 2012, the FBI warned Rohrabacher that Russian spies were trying to recruit him as an “agent of influence,” and informed Rohrabacher that Moscow looked at him as someone who could be influenced. Source

In April 2016, Rohrabacher traveled to Moscow and, with his staff director Paul Behrends and a small number of other US congressmen, met with Russia’s prosecutor general Yuri Chaika and deputy general prosecutor Viktor Grin. Chaika was the party who would later initiate the June 9 meeting in Trump Tower. Grin was personally under US sanctions via the Magnitsky Act. During their meeting, Chaika briefed Rohrabacher and Beherends on the Russian government’s position on the Magnitsky Act and provided a document, marked “confidential,” on the topic. In short, the document alleged that Bill Browder of Hermitage Capital Management had made up the whole story. The document included a request for Rohrabacher to hold a Congressional subcommittee hearing to re-examine US sanctions. Finally, the document included an offer that, in exchange for repeal of the Magnitsky Act, Russia would resolve other “key controversial issues and disagreements with the United States, including matters concerning the adoption procedures.” Source1 Source2

On April 11, 2016, Rohrabacher met Rinat Akhmetshin at the lobby bar of the Westin Grand Hotel in Berlin, Germany. (Rohrabacher has acknowledged that he suspected Akhmetshin had ulterior motives and links to Russian security services.) Eyewitnesses reported they were discussing an ongoing money laundering lawsuit against Prevezon Holdings being held in New York. In the lawsuit, the US government sought civil and criminal penalties against Prevezon for allegedly laundering money into the US that had originated from the crimes disclosed by Sergei Magnitsky, which ultimately resulted in Magnitsky Act. Source

Upon his return to the US, Rohrabacher delayed passage of the Global Magnitsky Act and tabled an amendment to remove Magnitsky’s name from its title, as suggested by the Kremlin. Rohrabacher’s stated reasons for these actions closely conformed to the content of the document he had received from Chaika. Source

On May 4, 2016, Rohrabacher tweeted the first of many tweets he would make to praise Andrei Nekrasov, the director of an anti-Magnitsky Act movie, “The Magnitsky Affair—Behind the Scenes.”

Rohrabacher then worked with Behrends and Akhmetshin to plan a June 14 House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee meeting. They hoped to show the anti-Magnitsky Act propaganda movie, which Rohrabacher had received on his visit to Moscow, and to present witnesses including Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya and the director of the Magnitsky movie, Andrei Nekrasov. However, before the subcommittee meeting took place, the subcommittee chairman Ed Royce cancelled it, believing that it would potentially be embarrassing for the Republican Party. Instead, Royce scheduled a June 13 hearing on Russia relations with the full House Foreign Relations Committee. Source

On June 13, 2016, during the US House Foreign Relations Committee hearing in D.C., Rohrabacher advocated an end to sanctions against Russia, approvingly compared Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin, and submitted testimony that Russia was not behind the radioactive poisoning of former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko in London. In addition, at Rohrabacher’s invitation, former US ambassador to the Soviet Union Jack Matlock presented further pro-Kremlin testimony. Source

That evening, following the screening of the anti-Magnitsky Act film, Rohrabacher, Behrends, Veselnitskaya, and Akhmetshin attended a dinner with about 20 guests at the Capitol Hill Club. Source1 Source2 Invitations to attend the event were distributed by an intern on Rohrabacher’s committee, who promised that the film would convince viewers Magnitsky was no hero. The intern, Catherine O’Neill, would later take a job on the Trump transition team. Source

On June 14, 2016, Veselnitskaya filed a report with US Congress, outlining the allegations in the anti-Magnitsky Act movie. Source

On June 15, 2016, US House majority leader Kevin McCarthy was secretly recorded in a private conversation with other Republican leaders at the US Capitol, saying, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” House Speaker Paul Ryan interrupted to stop the conversation and swore everyone to secrecy. Source

On September 13, 2017, Dana Rohrabacher called White House chief of staff John Kelly to propose a deal where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange would receive a pardon, “or something like that.” In exchange, Assange would allegedly produce evidence that Russia did not provide the hacked emails Wikileaks released during the 2016 election. Source