Congress’ New Russian Spy Target Has Been Revealed – Trump’s W.H. Crumbles

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The Russian efforts to influence the American political system do not begin or end with Donald Trump. Such is important to remember, even while the nation reels from possible collusion with the Russians in these efforts on the part of the President and/or his associates.

Former U.S. officials speaking to the New York Times have revealed that, in 2012, the FBI had significant reason to believe that California GOP Congressman and longtime supporter of the Russian Government Dana Rohrabacher was a target of Russian spies looking for a way to influence the goings-on of Capitol Hill.

FBI officials met with Rohrabacher at the time to warn him that he was a target, but he brushed off their concerns, telling the New York Times that he “appreciated the warning but needed no reminder,” adding, “any time you meet a Russian member of their Foreign Ministry or the Russian government, you assume those people have something to do with Russian intelligence.”

Indeed; FBI officials, including in Rohrabacher’s case, have long concerned themselves with rooting out Russian spies who have cover jobs as diplomats. Making the FBI’s job even harder, however, is the fact that it’s not just that spies sometimes masquerade as diplomatic officials. Diplomatic officials — such as Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kisylak — also sometimes double as spies.

That’s part of why the repeated meetings between Trump officials and Kisylak are so problematic.

The set-up that the FBI warned Rohrabacher about some years ago is similar to that which attempted to draw in Trump adviser Carter Page as an accomplice to Russian intelligence gathering a short while before he joined the Trump campaign. A spy ring consisting of individuals masquerading as diplomats and bankers attempted to cultivate Page as an intelligence source, but that spy ring was eventually busted.

Neither Page or Rohrabacher are believed to have been successfully cultivated as assets to Russian spy rings initially, although Page is believed to have eventually begun to effectively operate as a Russian agent. That’s what prompted a court to sign off on a wiretap on his phone in late 2016.

Rohrabacher has been in the news lately on account of his inclusion in a startling so-called “joke” that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy made in 2016. At the time, McCarthy, along with a number of other leading Republicans, were fresh off meetings with the Ukrainian Prime Minister covering Russian efforts to influence political systems external to their own.

Following these meetings, McCarthy said that he believes that the only two American politicians who are paid by Russian President Vladimir Putin are Congressman Rohrabacher and Donald Trump. There remains, apparently, no evidence that Rohrabacher has ever been paid by the Russians for his pro-Russia views, although the jury is still out — literally — on Donald Trump.

For the Congressman’s part, he, having been described as one of Trump’s top Capitol Hill allies, has taken Trump’s lead and downplayed the whole thing.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times in March about the Russian election meddling, he said:

‘Did they try to influence our election? We have tried to influence their elections, and everybody’s elections. The American people are being fed information that would lead them to believe that we need to be in a warlike stance when it comes to Russia.’

Featured Image via SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images.