Jun. 15—Dana Rohrabacher, the former California representative who earned the moniker “Putin’s favorite congressman” for his coziness with Russian President Vladimir Putin and moved to Maine after losing re-election, confirmed Monday that he participated in the Jan. 6 march on the U.S. Capitol.
Rohrabacher, who lives in York, told the Press Herald that he participated in what he says started as a peaceful march but said he did not enter the building. He confirmed he was there in an interview Monday afternoon after internet sleuths identified him in footage of the crowd that gathered on the west side of the Capitol.
“I marched to protest, and I thought the election was fraudulent and it should be investigated, and I wanted to express that and be supportive of that demand,” Rohrabacher told the Press Herald. “But I was not there to make a scene and do things that were unacceptable for anyone to do.”
Rohrabacher’s attendance was exposed on Twitter Saturday by a group of anonymous open-source intelligence sleuths using the account @capitolhunters. They found him — wearing a knit hat and overcoat — in four videos that establish he was standing in the crowd at the edge of the Lower West Plaza from at least 1:58 to 3:20 p.m. on Jan. 6. He was nearly 500 feet beyond the police barriers and inside the restricted zone, but there is no indication he attempted to climb the West Plaza steps or enter the building.
#SeditionHunters — Thursday’s arrest of Alan Hostetter highlighted extremism in Orange County, CA, but even he is junior-league. We knew OC would send their finest, and here he is, the highest-profile #SeditionVIP yet: former U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA 42). 1/ pic.twitter.com/yJDdR5aR4T
— capitolhunters (@capitolhunters) June 12, 2021
“By going into the building, they gave the Left the ability to direct the discussion of what was going on in a way that was harmful to the things we believe in,” Rohrabacher said, adding that he believed “Leftist provocateurs” encouraged the crowd to breach the building.
In reality, many of the more than 500 rioters who have been charged by federal authorities to date are alleged to have close links to right-wing extremist organizations such as the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, and have said they believed they were following then-President Trump’s orders when they attacked the Capitol and disrupted the ceremonial counting of Electoral College votes.
Rohrabacher is among the highest-profile political figures revealed to have marched on the Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection. In the videos, he is in the company of a man wearing a hat with lowered earflaps who Rohrabacher said was a friend of his from Japan who is active in the cannabis industry.
A person responding to messages to the @capitolhunters account said members wished to stay anonymous.
Rohrabacher is a colorful and perplexing figure. A 73-year-old surfer and cannabis legalization champion, he wrote speeches for former President Ronald Reagan, embedded with Afghan mujahideen fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and once arm-wrestled a young Putin in a D.C. pub. But he later became a prominent ally of the Russian leader and other authoritarian figures such as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and French far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
In the mid-2010s, he championed many of the former KGB officer’s positions, opposing the expansion of NATO and economic sanctions for the murder of Russian corruption investigator Gregory Magnitsky, and even countering criticism of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He attended dinners with alleged Russian agent Maria Butina in Moscow and D.C. in 2015 and 2017, ABC News reported, and in the summer of 2016 traveled to London and met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who released hacked emails damaging to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
An enthusiastic ally of Trump, he lost re-election in November 2018 and announced a few weeks later that he would move to Maine. In May 2019 he joined the board of BudTrader.com, a national advertising platform for cannabis, and later became a special adviser to PharmaCielo, a Canadian cannabis oil manufacturer.
In June 2019, Rohrabacher purchased an $849,000, four-bedroom, 1910 Victorian on a 3-acre riverside lot in York where he now lives with his wife and teenage triplets. He attended a Dec. 22 fundraiser for Eric Brakey’s unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination to challenge Rep. Jared Golden to represent Maine’s 2nd Congressional District but has otherwise been a quiet political presence in Maine.
He told the Press Herald on Monday that he and his wife had shopped around the country for a new place to live, rejecting locations in Tennessee and Texas in favor of York.
“I was looking for a nice place to live, and Maine’s about the nicest place in the world,” he said. “I will tell you nothing comes anywhere close to Maine.”
“That guy up in New York, (former Mayor Michael) Bloomberg, spent $4.5 million in the last week of the 2018 campaign to defeat me, but I don’t feel bad about it,” he added. “They did me a big favor.”