A new report reveals that a Republican congressman who was the butt of a joke about being a secret Russian agent by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was warned year earlier by the FBI that Russian spies were trying to recruit him.
In 2012, an FBI agent warned California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher that Russian spies were attempting to recruit him as an "agent of influence," according to a report by The New York Times. The senior members of the House Intelligence Committee at that time were also present, including Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan and Democratic Rep. C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland (Rupperberger told The Times that he doesn't remember an FBI agent being at the meeting, which he described as existing to remind "Dana that Russia is our adversary").
Rohrabacher told The Times that the meeting specifically pertained to his contacts with a member of the Russian Foreign Ministry that the congressman had met during a trip to Moscow. According to the congressman, he was warned by the FBI agent that they worried about the Russian government perceiving him "as someone who could be influenced."
Officials told The Times that they were not under the impression that Rohrabacher was actively working with Russian intelligence and that there is not any evidence of Rohrabacher having been paid by them, which was what House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy joked about in 2016.
Rohrabacher insisted to the Times that he was aware of the possibility that he was being recruited and did not need to be warned. "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," Rohrabacher said.