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California GOP Congressman Rohrabacher met with accused Russian agent in St. Petersburg

California GOP Congressman Rohrabacher met with accused Russian agent in St. Petersburg Orange County GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher met in Russi...

California GOP Congressman Rohrabacher met with accused Russian agent in St. Petersburg

Orange County GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher met in Russia in 2015 with a woman later charged by federal officials for allegedly acting as an unregistered agent of the Kremlin in a covert endeavor to shape American politics.

News of the 2015 meeting â€" confirmed Tuesday by Rohrabacher’s office â€" came the same day he told Politico that Monday’s indictment of 29-year-old Maria Butina was “bogus” and “stupid,” saying he believes the allegations are part of a larger plot to undermine President Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia.

The Justice Dept. accused Butina of establishing back-channel lines of communications to American politicians in recent years “to penetrate the U.S. national decision-making apparatus to advance the agenda of the Russian Federation.”

The indictment states that as part of that plot, Butina had discussions wi th a Russian official â€" reported to be Alexander Torshin, an influential deputy governor of the Russian central bank â€" about his plans to “meet with a U.S. Congressman during a Congressional Delegation trip to Moscow in August 2015.”

Rohrabacher’s name has surfaced several times in the past year for his meetings with people connected to the Kremlin, amid an ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, though he hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing. In 2012, Rohrabacher was warned by the FBI that Russia was trying to recruit him as a spy. And he has said in the past that he assumed that Russian intelligence officers have been near at hand during his visits to the country.

Rohrabacher’s spokesman, Ken Grubbs, said Rohrabacher is unsure if he’s the unnamed congressman discussed in the affidavit. But Grubbs confirmed that Rohrabacher and an American delegation attended a breakfast with Torshin, organized by Butina, in a hotel in St . Petersburg (not Moscow) in Aug. 2015.

Congressional records show that Rohrabacher and New York Democrat Rep. Gregory Meeks â€" the two top-ranking members of the House Foreign Affairs’ subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats â€" traveled to Russia from Aug. 4 to Aug. 6, 2015. An aide for Meeks said the New York congressman did not recall meeting with Butina and said that Meeks was there to act as a counterbalance to Rohrabacher’s pro-Russia views.

Grubbs said Rohrabacher remembered Butina only as an aide to Torshin and “pretty minimal and inconsequential otherwise.” Rohrabacher talked with Torshin “about a range of issues: natural resources, strategic issues,” Grubbs said.

“This is what he does as chairman of the (Foreign Affairs) subcommittee,” Grubbs said. “He’s very guarded in what he says and always tries to pick up information. He makes an automatic assumption that the people he meets in these foreign countries, that they could be doing more than the job they have. He didn’t think that (Butina) fit the profile of a spy.”

Rohrabacher has asserted in the past that some in the federal government want to perpetuate a Cold War with Russia, while he said he wants to warm relations. He repeated that claim on Monday, telling Politico that “deep-state” American operatives were attempting to “undermine the president’s ability to have better relationships with Russia.”

News of Rohrabacher’s connection to Butina comes only a few days after the special counsel investigating Russian interference, Robert Mueller, indicted a dozen Russian intelligence officers on charges that they hacked top Democrats’ computers during the 2016 election.

It also comes a day after Trump, in a news conference alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, refuted the U.S. intelligence community’s evidence of election meddling, saying he didn’t believe that Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential campaigns. While Trump has since walked back his statement, partially acknowledging Russia meddling, Rohrabacher defended Trump’s comments, telling Bloomberg on Monday that the U.S. had interfered in other country’s elections “at a much higher level than Russia does.”

Source: Google News | Netizen 24 United States

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