Costa Mesa Congressman Dana Rohrabacher continues to make headlines far beyond the boundaries of his district, getting coverage this month in the San Francisco Chronicle after claiming the Charlottesville violence was part of a Democratic scheme and in the Wall Street Journal for being rebuffed in his effort to talk to President Donald Trump about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
The 15-term Republican has long worn his iconoclastic reputation with pride. A surfer and former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, Rohrabacher has distinguished himself by leading efforts to liberalize federal marijuana laws and by calling for friendly relations with Russia.
But the congressman has been getting more media attention than usual this year. Headlines since July have included meetings with Russian officials, asking a NASA official if there was ever civilization on Mars and for becoming the first congressman to meet with Assange since the controversial figure took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012.
Rohrabacher’s heightened profile comes at a time when he could receive the first significant challenge to his reelection. His seat has been targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and he’s already drawn nine challengers who have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Following his Aug. 16 meeting with Assange, Rohrabacher said the WikiLeaks chief continued to vehemently deny that Russia was involved with leaking controversial emails from the Democratic National Committee during last year’s presidential campaign. He said Assange had shared information with him, but declined to detail what it was.
“I have some information to give the president before I give information to anyone else,” he told the Register that night. U.S. intelligence agencies have expressed “high confidence” that Russia originally hacked the emails and relayed them to WikiLeaks. Those leaks are part of ongoing federal investigations.
Rohrabacher reached out to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly last week in a phone call “apparently aimed at resolving the probe of WikiLeaks … through a pardon or other act of clemency from President Donald Trump,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
However, according to the report, Kelly told Rohrabacher the proposal “was best directed to the intelligence community” and did not relay Rohrabacher’s message to Trump.
Asked about the congressman not getting through to the president, Rohrabacher…