The Buzz is the Register’s weekly political news column.
Despite going along with a new round of sanctions, President Donald Trump and Costa Mesa Rep. Dana Rohrabacher continue to be scrutinized for having urged friendlier relationships with Russia.
The Republican congressman told the Register he only voted for the sanctions because they included North Korea and Iran, and would have opposed the measure if it targeted Russia alone. As for Trump, several people close to the president appear to still be part of a federal investigation into election meddling by the Russians.
But Stelian Onufrei only sees one of the two at fault: Rohrabacher, who says that modern-day Russian should not be confused with Cold War-era USSR.
“I do not believe a regime like Russia today is that far off from the USSR,” counters the Romania-born Onufrei.
Perhaps not coincidently, Onufrei is a Trump supporter and a Rohrabacher foe.
Last month, Onufrei, 52, declared his candidacy against the 15th-term incumbent, the only Republican among the nine challengers in the race so far. Within days of announcing his bid, he changed the address on his voter registration from a home outside the district, in Buena Park, to an apartment in the coastal congressional district. The construction-company owner says he plans to spend $500,000 of his own money on the campaign.
One target of Onufrei’s criticism is the congressman’s 2016 Moscow meeting with a Russian prosecutor in Moscow, an unofficial event that took place while Rohrabacher was leading a congressional delegation tour. The Russian official gave Rohrabacher a document defending Russia’s treatment of whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky, whose suspicious death contributed to an earlier round of U.S. sanctions. Rohrabacher said he was simply collecting information in his role as a House foreign affairs subcommittee chairman.
Onufrei said Rohrabacher shouldn’t have taken that meeting on his own.
“Our intelligence people should have been there.”
But Onufrei is unconcerned when it comes to the controversial June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower, when people connected to the Russian government met privately with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Trump’s then-campaign manager, Paul Manafort, to provide information from the Russian government described as damaging to Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent in the race for president. The distinction Onufrei makes is that Rohrabacher was working in an official governmental capacity…