GOP leadership knew about Dana
Dana Rohrabacher didn't keep his admiration for Vladimir Putin a secret. But apparently, the Russians thought he was quite the useful idiot. And the GOP leadership has known about it since 2012:
The F.B.I. warned a Republican congressman in 2012 that Russian spies were trying to recruit him, officials said, an example of how aggressively Russian agents have tried to influence Washington politics.
The congressman, Dana Rohrabacher of California, has been known for years as one of Moscow’s biggest defenders in Washington and as a vocal opponent of American economic sanctions against Russia. He claims to have lost a drunken arm-wrestling match with the current Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, in the 1990s. He is one of President Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill.
As a newly appointed special counsel investigates connections between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives, the warning to Mr. Rohrabacher shows that the F.B.I. has for years viewed Russian spies, sometimes posing as diplomats, as having a hand in Washington.
Mr. Rohrabacher was drawn into the maelstrom this week when The Washington Post reported on an audio recording of Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House majority leader, saying last year, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” Mr. McCarthy said on Wednesday that he had made a joke that landed poorly.
But the F.B.I. has taken seriously the possibility that Russian spies would target American politicians. In a secure room at the Capitol, an F.B.I. agent told Mr. Rohrabacher in 2012 that Russian spies were trying to recruit him as an “agent of influence” — someone the Russian government might be able to use to steer Washington policy-making, former officials said.
Mr. Rohrabacher said in a telephone interview on Thursday that the meeting had focused on his contact with one member of the Russian Foreign Ministry, whom he recalled meeting on a trip to Moscow. “They were telling me he had something to do with some kind of Russian intelligence,” Mr. Rohrabacher said. He recalled the F.B.I. agent saying that Moscow “looked at me as someone who could be influenced.”
Law enforcement officials did not think that Mr. Rohrabacher was actively working with Russian intelligence, officials said, rather that he was being targeted as an unwitting player in a Russian effort to gain access in Washington, according to one former American official. The official said there was no evidence that Mr. Rohrabacher was ever paid by the Russians.
Also at the meeting were Representative Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan, and according to one former official, Representative C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Democrat of Maryland. Mr. Rogers and Mr. Ruppersberger were the senior members of the House Intelligence Committee. In a brief telephone interview, Mr. Ruppersberger said that he recalled a meeting with Mr. Rogers and Mr. Rohrabacher, but did not remember that an F.B.I. agent was present. “Mike and I reminded Dana that Russia is our adversary,” he said.
Mr. Rogers, who has since retired from Congress, declined to comment.
Rogers was widely considered to be a top candidate for the FBI but his name seems to have slid down the list. He also served on Trump's transition team (and quit in December.)
So basically the Intelligence Committee knew about this. Rohrabacher continued to be Russia's greatest friend on Capitol Hill. And we know that the Republican leadership knew about this too because they were "joking" about it last year.
Obviously, there's nothing inherently wrong with someone being a Russophile. Lot's of people are. And I guess it's no big deal as long as Rohrabacher didn't have access to any information that could compromise national security. But if this affinity comes from a love of Putinesque strongman authoritarianism, it's concerning nonetheless.