House

Rohrabacher aide fired over Russia connections

Paul Behrends, a top aide to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) has been fired from his position as staff director at the House Foreign Affairs Committee, after his connections to pro-Russia lobbyists were recently revealed.

A Foreign Affairs spokesperson told The Atlantic Wednesday "Paul Behrends no longer works at the committee."

Rohrabacher and Behrends raised concern among embassy officials in 2016 during a trip to Moscow where the lawmaker said he received materials advocating against the Magnitsky Act from the Russians. The Magnitsky Act sanctions Russian officials who were involved in the 2009 death of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer investigating tax fraud in the government.

Behrends was reportedly fired at the recommendation of Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.).

"Paul Behrends has done a terrific job for me and the committee," Rohrabacher said in a statement Wednesday. "I have not heard anything to the contrary. I am looking forward to discussing this with the committee leadership. I am sure we will work this out."

Behrends rejoined Rohrabacher's team in 2014, after previously working for the Republican in the 1990s.

Russia appears to be engaged in a concerted effort to win over lawmakers on policies the Kremlin finds unacceptable. 

In an interview with The Hill published last week, Rohrabacher said he received derogatory information about the act from an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"I had a meeting with some people, government officials, and they were saying, 'Would you be willing to accept material on the Magnitsky case from the prosecutors in Moscow?' And I said, 'Sure, I'd be willing to look at it,' " he said.

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