The story of Russia's attempts to influence American national politics grew in scope early Friday. The New York Times reported that Dana Rohrabacher (R-Cali.) was warned by the FBI in 2012 that Russia intelligence was attempting to recruit him. Rohrabacher confirmed the story when the Times reached out to him for comment.
“They were telling me he had something to do with some kind of Russian intelligence,“ he said, referring to a trip to Moscow where he met with a member of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Rohrabacher added that he was told that Russia ”looked at me as someone who could be influenced."
According to the Times' sources, Rohrabacher was not being investigated with the idea he was consciously cooperating with Russian agents. Instead, the belief was that he was an “unwitting player” in a Russian scheme to gather power. The same official said there was no proof that Russia had paid the congressman.
That last part is especially important in light of Thursday's Washington Post report revealing the existence of a 2016 recording in which House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told fellow Republicans that “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” He later said it was a joke, though he had added “Swear to God!” when laughter broke out.