Rohrabacher staffer removed from House Foreign Affairs Committee job amid Russia questions

The Wall Street Journal reports: A Capitol Hill staffer has been removed from his job on the House Foreign Affairs Committee amid questions about his contacts with pro-Russian operatives and lobbyists.

Paul Behrends, who serves as a top aide to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R., Calif.), left his job as a staff director on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the committee revealed this week. A person familiar with the matter said Mr. Behrends was fired over concerns about his Russia contacts.

Mr. Behrends, who hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing, declined to comment.

Mr. Behrends is a former Marine who has worked in politics on and off for decades. He worked for Mr. Rohrabacher as a Capitol Hill staffer in the 1990s before embarking on a career as a lobbyist. During his time in the private sector, he was the chief lobbyist for Blackwater, the military contractor that is now part of Constellis Holdings. [Continue reading…]

The Daily Beast reports: Members of the team of Russians who secured a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner also attempted to stage a show trial of anti-Putin campaigner Bill Browder on Capitol Hill.

The trial, which would have come in the form of a congressional hearing, was scheduled for mid-June 2016 by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), a long-standing Russia ally who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe. During the hearing, Rohrabacher had planned to confront Browder with a feature-length pro-Kremlin propaganda movie that viciously attacks him—as well as at least two witnesses linked to the Russian authorities, including lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

Ultimately, the hearing was canceled when senior Republicans intervened and agreed to allow a hearing on Russia at the full committee level with a Moscow-sympathetic witness, according to multiple congressional aides.

An email reviewed by The Daily Beast shows that before that June 14 hearing, Rohrabacher’s staff received pro-Kremlin briefings against Browder, once Russia’s biggest foreign investor, and his tax attorney Sergei Magnitsky from a lawyer who was working with Veselnitskaya. [Continue reading…]

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