In a late April interview with Newport Beach, California, Councilman Scott Peotter, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) called U.S. intelligence agents liars for claiming Russia hacked Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 election.
Rep. Rohrabacher claimed U.S. intelligence agencies engaged in a massive plot to lie to the American people about Russian hacking in the 2016 election, saying American people “are being lied to by their own intelligence agencies claiming that the Russians hacked [the DNC].” Rohrabacher even used air quotes as he mocked U.S. intelligence services, to emphasize his position.
“In terms of all of the intelligence services, 16 of them, that have said, ‘Oh, no, the Russians did meddle and the Russians were engaged in this.’ No, I’m sorry, they didn’t,” Rohrabacher says. Rohrabacher says only three intelligence agencies concluded Russia was involved in the hack.
In fact, four intelligence agencies were responsible for the January 2017 assessment about Russian interference: the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency (NSA) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which is an umbrella agency that oversees all 17 organizations. (While intelligence agencies such as the Treasury Office of Intelligence and Analysis did not specifically weigh in, it is likely because that office had no reason to weigh in. No intelligence agencies dispute the findings.)
But according to Rohrabacher, even Trump-appointed heads of these agencies are involved in a conspiracy to lie to the American people about Russia’s role in election interference.
The conclusion of the intelligence community is clear: “We assess with high confidence that Russian military intelligence (General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU) used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com to release US victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets and relayed material to WikiLeaks.”
Yet Rohrabacher claims there are weasel words in the report, including the words “high confidence.”
After disparaging the entire American intelligence community as “liars,” Rohrabacher, widely known as “Putin’s favorite congressman,” rehashes a conspiracy theory so outlandish it has been debunked by virtually every reputable media outlet.
Rohrabacher claims that a DNC staffer named Seth Rich stole the emails and gave them to Wikileaks. Rich, who was employed at the DNC, was murdered in Washington, D.C., in the summer of 2016. The claim that he was responsible for the leak was first reported by a Fox affiliate, and later on Fox News.
Within days, Fox retracted the story, but not before the conspiracy took hold. The conspiracy theory “appealed to some supporters of President Trump who sought to counter the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia hacked the DNC as part of an effort to assist Trump’s campaign,” according to the Washington Post. The notion that Rich was the leak has been rated “pants on fire” by Politifact and “false” by Snopes.com.
Despite the false and hurtful narrative, the unfounded accusations persisted, fueled by Kremlin-funded outlets including RT (formerly Russia Today) and Sputnik News, and by Fox News hosts like Sean Hannity.
In May 2017, a lawyer representing Rich’s parents in a lawsuit against Fox News said, “At this point, only people with transparent political agendas or sociopaths are still perpetuating Seth Rich conspiracies.” Yet Rohrabacher is still peddling these lies.
In order for Rohrabacher to be right, multiple U.S. intelligence agencies headed by appointees from both the Obama and Trump administrations must have engaged in a massive misinformation campaign about who really hacked the DNC during the last election.
Additionally, a Russia-peddled conspiracy theory based on one retracted news article must be believed; a theory so outlandish it is refuted by multiple news agencies, law enforcement agencies, and the every bit of available evidence.
On the other hand, overwhelming evidence provided by multiple professionals in the U.S. intelligence community concludes Russia was behind the DNC hack.
Apparently, Rohrabacher has decided to side with Russia, and against the United States, on this issue.