It was bound to happen sooner rather than later, but now there are reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller III is expanding the Russia investigation to include a Republican congressman allied with Trump, Michael Flynn and the Russians. It appears to be the first time the Russia investigation has went outside of Trump’s immediate circle and it doesn’t bode well for Russian sympathizer Dana Rohrabacher. Rohrabacher is a House Republican the Federal Bureau of Investigation took the time to warn that he was being recruited by Russian spies. It is highly likely the FBI’s warning was too late according to Rohrabacher’s long-standing love affair with Vladimir Putin and Russia.
Rohrabacher has made no secret he is enamored with the Russians, or that he was Hell-bent and duty bound to have sanctions against the Russians lifted. However, Mueller is looking carefully at Rohrabacher because of meetings he had with disgraced Michael Flynn and high-level Russian officials in Moscow last year during the presidential campaign.
According to a report by NBC, Mr. Mueller’s team is investigating a meeting between Trump’s treasonous and former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Representative Rohrabacher who is renowned for expressing pro-Putin views on a number of America’s policies, but especially policies regarding sanctions on Moscow.
Mueller’s team is reportedly looking at emails sent from Flynn’s lobbying group to Rohrabacher thanking the congressman for his role in the meeting. One of the meetings between Flynn and Rohrabacher occurred in Washington in September of last year while Flynn was an advisor to Trump’s campaign. That particular meeting was organized by Flynn’s lobbying group and attended by Flynn’s son and two of Flynn’s business partners. No source was willing to confirm whether Rohrabacher and Flynn discussed American policy towards Russia during the September meeting, but it doesn’t take a genius to intuit that it was likely the primary reason for arranging the meeting.
About a month ago an article in the Wall Street Journal reported that Rohrabacher offered Trump a “sweet deal” to protect WikiLeaks creator Julian Assange from “legal peril” regarding his connection to the Russians and their attack on American democracy. Apparently Rohrabacher had a plan devised to help Russia and Trump involving Assange who would contradict 17 American intelligence agencies’ proof that Russia was the source of hacked emails that WikiLeaks used to damage Hillary Clinton.
According to a July story in The Atlantic about Rohrabacher’s trip to Moscow:
“Rohrabacher’s 2016 Moscow meeting has been revisited in recent days because of the document’s connection to the anti-Magnitsky campaign that formed part of the Trump Tower meeting. Last week, Donald Trump Jr. acknowledged that he met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian attorney he believed was prepared to hand him compromising information on Hillary Clinton as part of a broader Russian government effort to help his father’s candidacy. During the meeting, Trump Jr. said that Veselnitskaya was focused on repeal of the Magnitsky Act.”
Rohrabacher has not been shy about pushing for “better relations with Moscow” like Trump, and his trip to Russia to was to meet with Putin officials about how to successfully overturn the Magnitsky Act the Russians despise like the plague.
The Magnitsky Act (2012) froze assets of Russian investigators and prosecutors and it is no surprise that Rohrabacher traveled to Russia to meet with and assist the prosecutors and investigators under sanction by the United States. In fact, the Russians handed Rohrabacher a document marked “confidential” at the top that was chock full of accusations against Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer who died in prison in 2009 and Bill Browder, the Hermitage Capital CEO Magnitsky worked and was a driving force behind the Magnitsky Act legislation.
According to a report in the Financial Times, the person who handed Rohrabacher the “confidential document” in Moscow was the top aide to Russia’s prosecutor general with whom the lawyer in the now infamous Trump Tower meeting with Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort is close to. It explains why Trump Junior, Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner were excited to meet with her for information to help Trump’s campaign.
The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, is the Russian Trump Jr. expected to hand over compromising material on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia’s effort to elect Trump.” Trump Jr. “claimed” that Veselnitskaya was only there to get assurances that Trump would repeal the Magnitsky Act in return for Russia’s assistance. Junior’s assertion, coupled with the confirmed reports that the Russians handed confidential documents in Moscow about repealing the Magnitsky Act, now put Rohrabacher in a very perilous position.
It is worth noting that congressional Republicans were aware of Rohrabacher’s intimate relationship with the Russians during the presidential campaign. Barely a month before Trump secured the Republican nomination, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told colleagues, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, that “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” Ryan attempted to play off McCarthy’s comment as “a joke,” but it is clear now that his remark was not a joke and likely as true a statement as saying the Sun will rise in the East.
Although this is good news that Mr. Mueller is going beyond Trump’s inner circle like one expected from a comprehensive investigation, it is still too early to celebrate the end of another pro-Putin Republican. However, what it reveals is that despite what Trump said today, that Putin told him he definitely wasn’t involved in tilting the election for Trump, a claim Putin denies ever saying, there is a mountain of evidence proving otherwise. One can only hope that Mr. Mueller is allowed to complete his investigation without interference from Trump because if he follows every alleged connection between the Russians and Trump, there is a very real possibility that he will end up investigating more congressional Republicans than avowed Russian sympathizer Dana Rohrabacher.