A not-so-fond farewell to Dana Rohrabacher; running out of time to kill the Russia probe; Bill Browder’s war against Putin, and more

But his position as the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe allowed Rohrabacher to go beyond Russian causes. Rohrabacher was famously photographed fishing with Nigel Farage, the leader of the pro-Brexit UK Independence Party, who has his own curious links to Moscow. I’ve been told that he kept in close contact with lobbyists for the illiberal Hungarian ruling party, Fidesz; he has also held hearings designed to promote their cause. He has visited Marine LePen — the far-right French politician whose presidential campaign received funding from Russia — to discuss “shared values” in the company of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), the member of Congress most openly affiliated with white nationalism, who was sadly reelected.
None of this was a secret, and at some level, congressional Republicans have long been uncomfortable about Rohrabacher’s role. Infamously, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the then-House majority leader, once told a group of congressman that “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” But they never stopped him.
When the newly elected Democratic House opens for business, it might consider having a look at the role played by lobbyists for authoritarian politicians in Congress, with a particular emphasis on the role they played influencing Rohrabacher and his committee.
Rohrabacher’s departure is good news for other reasons. For one, it means that an American politician who flacks for foreign authoritarians does, in the end, pay an electoral price. More importantly, these midterms also made way for others who can help undo some of the damage. Many of the new Democratic intake are veterans and national security professionals who were inspired to run, in part, by the Trump administration’s assault on Western institutions and by the corruption in Congress. Tom Malinowski, for example, a former director at Human Rights Watch who held the human rights portfolio in President Barack Obama’s State Department, has won a House seat in New Jersey. One of his new colleagues in the New Jersey delegation, Mikie Sherrill, is a former Navy helicopter pilot. Abigail Spanberger, who beat the Trumpist Dave Brat in Virginia, is a former CIA officer. Elaine Luria, another former naval officer, will be one of Spanberger’s new colleagues in Virginia’s congressional delegation.
Any one of those newcomers would make a fine replacement for Rohrabacher on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. As the party of Ronald Reagan and John McCain abdicates its old international role, we need Democrats with real-world foreign policy experience to ensure that Congress goes on serving America’s interests, not the interests of America’s enemies.

Trump warns against new Russia probes by Congress (Uri Friedman, Defense One)
Incoming House intelligence chair: We “have a compelling interest in making sure that U.S. policy is not driven by leverage that the Russians have over the president.”

Deep inside a pro-Putin network that’s helping Trump divide America (Denise Clifton, Mother Jones)
Here’s what experts learned tracking millions of tweets from 600 Kremlin-linked trolls.

Republicans are running out of time to kill the Russia probe (Abigail Tracy, Vanity Fair)
“There are a lot of things that could happen between now and when [Democrats] take the majority,” says one Congressional aide. After that, it’s open season for Adam Schiff and a Democratic House.

The U.S. military just publicly dumped Russian government malware online (Motherboard)
U.S. Cyber Command, a part of the military tasked with hacking and cybersecurity operations, says it is releasing malware samples as an information sharing effort.

Russian disinformation and the Georgian ‘lab of death’ (Steve Rosenberg, BBC)
A BBC investigation has found that Russian media and officials presented false claims about a US-funded laboratory in neighboring Georgia. The Russian Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry and pro-Kremlin media claimed recently that untested drugs were given to Georgian citizens at the lab, resulting in a large number of deaths. The U.S. has accused Russia of disinformation in order to distract attention away from incidents such as the Salisbury poisonings.

Fake news and fake views see the spirit of Stalin live on in the far-right’s doctored videos (John Niven, Daily Record)
Our columnist hits out as the U.S. President uses the tactics of misinformation employed by dictators.

Mistrusted spy Kim Philby now celebrated as a hero (Ben McIntyre, Times)
Honours heaped on Kim Philby by Russia in recent years include a postage stamp, a portrait in a Moscow art gallery, a film on state television and an exhibition of 900 secret British documents he passed to the KGB during three decades as a double agent (Ben Macintyre writes).
His pipe is on display in the Second World War museum in Moscow, in memory of the “legendary agent and anti-fascist, who made a vast contribution” to protecting Russia. The tributes to Philby are part of a Kremlin campaign to burnish the image of the KGB and celebrate what it calls “the golden history” of Russian espionage. Awarded the Order of Lenin in 1965, he is again being treated as a hero.
There is irony in the posthumous adulation, however, because Moscow never fully trusted Philby after he fled there in 1963. He had expected to be fêted as a KGB general — instead he was put out to grass in a comfortable flat, invited to give the odd lecture but otherwise kept at arm’s length. He spent much of his time reading out-of-date imported copies of this newspaper, for which he once worked as a reporter.

“I see him as a modern-day Pablo Escobar”: Inside Bill Browder’s war against Putin (Marie Brenner, Vanity Fair)
In a series of revealing new interviews, Putin’s public enemy No. 1 offers scintillating details about his investigation into Russian financial malfeasance, running for his life, and the Helsinki fallout.