Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is coming under heavy criticism for his bizarre and offensive conspiracy theory that the Charlottesville terror attack was carried out by "Civil War reenactors" employed by "left-wingers."
California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher spouted a baseless and thoroughly bizarre conspiracy theory he concocted around the Charlottesville terror attack: The violent white supremacist riot was actually put on “Civil War reenactors” employed by “left-wingers.”
In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, the conservative stalwart — who once offered a defense of torture under the George W. Bush administration — and former member of the Reagan White House detailed his offensive fantasy.
Rohrabacher insists that it was not white supremacists who demonstrated at the event, but instead, “It was a setup for these dumb Civil War reenactors.” He added, “It was left-wingers who were manipulating them in order to have this confrontation” so they could “put our president on the spot.”
Former California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer took Rohrabacher to task, saying he was “delusional about Charlottesville” and calling on her fellow Californians to “resist and replace him.”
And as former White House counsel John Dean put it succinctly. “Embarrassing living it a state with sufficient votes to put Dana Rohrabacher in Congress,” he said. “A beautiful district. Not sure why so many nuts.”
Drew Godinich, spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement, “It is deeply disturbing that Congressman Dana Rohrabacher struggles to identify white nationalists, particularly after their actions in Charlottesville resulted in the death of an American citizen.”
The fake story was rated as a “pants on fire” lie by PolitiFact when it was echoed by Donald Trump promoter and 9/11 conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
Rohrabacher’s conspiracy is nothing more than vile excuse-making and an attempt to provide cover for Trump, who infamously described the white supremacists as “very fine people” while insisting that “many sides” were responsible for the violence — violence that led to the death of Heather Heyer, allegedly at the hands of an avowed white supremacist.
An inclination toward conspiracy theories isn’t the only area in which Rohrabacher shares interests with Trump: Both men share a disturbing admiration for Vladimir Putin and his iron-fisted rule over Russia.
Indeed, while he represents California’s 48th Congressional District, Rohrabacher has often sounded more like a Putin stooge.
He rhapsodized about Putin, telling a radio host, “He is tough!” He went on to make the odd observation that Putin’s “muscles were just unbelievable. You know he’s a tough guy and he’s supposed to be a tough guy, that’s what the Russian people want.”
Rohrabacher backed the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, blasting the United States for protesting the hostile action. At a congressional hearing he said, “The Russians were right; we’re wrong.” Six years later he was pleading Russia’s case again, cheerleading the annexation of Crimea in Ukraine.
Rohrabacher even asserted that if Russia ever wanted to become a part of Alaska it was “OK with me.”
Even his fellow Republicans have been caught on audio noting that Rohrabacher often sounds as if he is being paid by Putin.
Trump and Rohrabacher have also both been affiliated with the so-called “alt-right,” the white supremacist strain of conservatism that has come to dominate the Republican Party under Trump.
Rohrabacher made plans to meet up with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange when he invited conservative activist Charles C. Johnson to his house. Johnson told the Orange County Register that he believes white people are smarter than blacks, and has said that the Holocaust was a hoax. He was banned from Twitter after threatening to “take out” a Black Lives Matter activist.
After meeting with Assange, Rohrabacher amplified the international fugitive’s claim that the Democratic Party emails leaked by WikiLeaks during the presidential campaign were unrelated to Russia. Multiple U.S. intelligence agencies have verified that the hackers who stole the communications were paid by Russia, but Rohrabacher has now leapt to Assange’s defense with a ridiculous excuse.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Rohrabacher “contacted the White House this week trying to broker a deal that would end WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s U.S. legal troubles in exchange for what he described as evidence that Russia wasn’t the source of hacked emails” that Wikileaks published during the campaign.
With all of this history alongside his latest despicable claims about Charlottesville, Rohrabacher has become another sign that conspiracy theorizing and embracing Putin are not confined to Trump. It is an epidemic that has gripped the entire party and the conservative political movement.
This is who they are now.