Lawmaker says he once arm wrestled Vladimir Putin after drinking too much

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) said in an interview Thursday that he once lost an arm-wrestling match to Russian President Vladimir Putin after “having a little too much to drink” at a pub.

“We started arguing about who won the Cold War,” the 13-term congressman told California’s KPCC radio, according to audio posted by BuzzFeed. “We decided to settle it the way men do when they had too much to drink in the pub. So we got down to these arm-wrestling matches.”

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Rohrabacher said the incident happened in 1990 or 1991, just after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

He recalled that a group of young political leaders came into his Washington office, and among them was Putin, who was then St. Petersburg’s deputy mayor.

The California congressman invited Putin and Russian friends to play football that weekend with what he called his “right-wing friends,” including Scooter Libby, who was later chief of staff to former Vice President Dick Cheney and convicted of perjury.

After the game, the entire group went to the Irish Times pub, and that’s where the arm wrestling began.

“I ended up being paired off with Putin. He’s a little guy. But boy, I tell ‘ya, he put me down in a millisecond. He is tough. His muscles are just unbelievable,” Rohrabacher said.

“He’s supposed to be a tough guy. That’s what Russian people want. But that’s no reason why we shouldn’t try to work with him.”

His comments come amid current tensions between the U.S. and Russia as the Obama administration evaluates whether Russia’s diplomatic proposal for Syria to surrender its chemical weapons will work.