The Atlantic

Russian Anti-Sanctions Campaign Turned to California Congressman

U.S. diplomats were concerned about Russian outreach to House Republican Dana Rohrabacher while on a trip to Moscow last year.
Source: Aaron Bernstein / Reuters

Updated on July 19, 2017

The trip was two months before the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer and lobbyist. Representative Dana Rohrabacher, perhaps the most Russia-friendly member of the GOP caucus, led a congressional delegation to Moscow in which he was handed materials critical of the Magnitsky Act, the 2012 bill imposing sanctions on Russian officials. Rohrabacher has said that the documents were given to him by Russian prosecutors.

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.

But even at the time, Rohrabacher’s 2016 Moscow trip raised eyebrows among U.S. officials, particularly at the State Department. According to two sources with close knowledge of the events, officials at the Embassy in Moscow expressed doubts about the people they were meeting with

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