According to NBC News, investigators for Special Counsel Robert Mueller have begun questioning witnesses to a September 20, 2016 meeting between retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) as part of the ongoing Russia probe. Rohrabacher has gained a reputation as a relentlessly pro-Russian politician, with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy joking, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.”
And Rohrabacher traveled to Moscow in April of last year to discuss overturning the Magnitsky Act with Natalia Veselnitskaya — the Russian lawyer who infamously met with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower to discuss information damaging to Hillary Clinton.
But beyond the California congressman’s bizarre support for the Kremlin, Rohrabacher maintains a working relationship with notorious alt-right troll Chuck C. Johnson. Johnson is a former writer for Breitbart who later founded the far-right fundraising platform WeSearchr.
In a July 23, 2016 appearance on the white supremacist podcast Fash the Nation, Johnson claimed that racial stereotypes are “largely true,” and that he factors those stereotypes in his hiring decisions. He went on to say that African-Americans are “dumber” than whites, and called Jewish people “neurotic.”
And in January AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) for Reddit’s now-defunct alt-right section, Johnson said of the Holocaust, “I do not and never have believed the six million figure. I think the Red Cross numbers of 250,000 dead in the camps from typhus are more realistic. I think the Allied bombing of Germany was a ware crime. I agree with David Cole about Auschwitz and the gas chambers not being real.”
Nevertheless, in August of this year, Rep. Rohrabacher and Chuck Johnson paid a visit to the Ecuadorian embassy in London to meet with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. After the meeting, according to a statement put out by Rohrabacher, Assange “emphatically stated that the Russians were not involved in the hacking or disclosure of [Hillary Clinton’s] emails.”
Assange himself is no stranger to far-right and nativist sentiment. In July 2016 the official WikiLeaks Twitter account thrilled white nationalists by using the anti-Semitic (((echo))) meme. The tweet was eventually deleted and the operator of the Twitter account denied any racist intent. However, a September 2017 tweet by the WikiLeaks founder himself revealed a dark obsession with white European birthrates.
Following the August meeting, Rohrabacher attended a meeting with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to discuss Assange. But in a bizarre move Rohrabacher invited none other than Holocaust denier Chuck Johnson to attend the meeting with him. And, according to a filing with the Federal Election Commission, Johnson donated $5,400 in Bitcoin to Rohrabacher’s reelection campaign — the maximum amount allowable.
Yet Rohrabacher and Assange aren’t the only connections between Johnson and the Russia probe, either. Last year a GOP researcher named Peter Smith sought out Johnson’s assistance in recovering 33,000 emails then-candidate Hillary Clinton supposedly deleted. The two corresponded via email in order to discuss “tactics and research” throughout the presidential campaign.
Eventually Johnson recommended that Smith contact Andrew “weev” Auernheimer, a Neo-Nazi black hat hacker. Auernheimer, who currently resides in Ukraine, set up the bulletin board system for Andrew Anglin’s white supremacist website The Daily Stormer. Johnson’s WeSearchr website raised over $150,000 for the Stormer’s legal defense fund over a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Auernheimer neither confirmed nor denied that Smith reached out to him. As for Smith, he took that answer to his grave. On May 14, 2017 the 81-year-old committed suicide just ten days after an interview he gave to the Wall Street Journal. According to a statement Smith left in his Rochester hotel room, he was in poor health and his life insurance policy was expiring.
Johnson’s shady connections apparently piqued the interest of the Senate Intelligence Committee, because in July of this year Johnson was sent a request for documents relating to the 2016 presidential campaign. In response to the inquiry, Johnson refused to comply and mocked the Russia probe as “fake news.”
However, the news that Mueller is focusing on a meeting between Flynn Sr. and Rohrabacher might not bode well for the white nationalist troll. Considering the close relationship between Johnson and Rohrabacher it might only be a matter of time before he himself is ensnared in the investigation. And at that point, he might not be so confident.