“I think, since that moment, I have realized that I was fighting communism all that time, but I wasn’t fighting Russians,” Rohrabacher said in an interview in his Capitol Hill office.
The Soviet Union would soon break apart, and Rohrabacher grew to respect his onetime enemies and champion their attempt at democracy. Two decades ago, he got to know Vladimir Putin while drunkenly arm-wrestling the then-deputy-mayor of St. Petersburg over who actually won the Cold War. (Putin won the matchup, and quickly, Rohrabacher notes.).. After playing a role in the Soviet Union’s collapse, Rohrabacher decided his job in Congress was to ease the way for Russia to embrace democracy. He has spent the nearly three decades since meeting with Russian politicians, carrying Russian-related legislation and advocating for the country and against U.S. sanctions, moves that earned him the favorite congressman nickname from Politico... He sees a kindred spirit in Trump, who since the early days of his campaign has said he wants to have a friendly relationship with Putin, and believes Russia could be a strategic ally for fighting Islamic State. Rohrabacher was even briefly floated as a candidate for secretary of State... During a committee hearing just last week, Rohrabacher dismissed concerns about Russian aggression from the former president of Estonia, and compared Putin to the late Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.Daley “beat demonstrators up and did not represent anything what America was all about, but he was not some vicious dictator,” Rohrabacher said.