POLITICS
12/08/2016 05:31 am ET Updated Dec 08, 2016

Potential Secretary Of State Pick Cozies Up To Russia, Says 'We Don't Need China'

China is the world’s second largest economy and a prime trading partner.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), supposedly on a growing shortlist to become secretary of state, said Wednesday that “the Chinese are not our friends” and strongly suggested a better relationship with Russia would be “a good thing.”

In a fiery interview with Yahoo News and Finance anchor Bianna Golodryga, Rohrabacher toed a similar line to President-elect Donald Trump when he said it would be better to cooperate with Russia and “actually take on real enemies.”

“If it’s right for us to join in and cooperate and have a better relationship with Russia in order to defeat radical Islam and to pull China back a bit, well that’s a good thing, and that’s what this is all about,” said Rohrabacher, whom Politico once called Russian President Vladimir Putin’sfavorite congressman.”  

The federation of Communist republics known as the Soviet Union that Russia ran no longer exists, he said.

“There’s a bunch of people here who want to treat it like it’s still the Soviet Union and get in the Cold War,” Rohrabacher said. “That’s not what Donald Trump wants, it’s not good for America, and it’s better to cooperate with them to actually take on real enemies.”

Trump has adopted a near-unheard of pro-Russian stance throughout his campaign, praising Putin and expressing hope to strengthen ties between the country and America. On Wednesday, he rejected findings from U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered in the U.S. election, saying he thought the groups were motivated by politics, not hard evidence.

Golodryga pushed Rohrabacher, who had earlier criticized China as the world’s “worst” human rights abuser, on his stance and asked how he felt about Russia’s own conduct on the issue.

“When you talk about human rights abusers in China, much can be said about Russia as well in that regard,” she said.

The aghast congressman exploded.

Rohrabacher: Oh, baloney ― where do you come from? 

Golodryga: I come from the former Soviet Union, that’s where I came from. I came here as a political refugee. That’s where I came from.

Rohrabacher: Oh, OK. What country did you say you came from?

Golodryga: I come from the former Soviet Union, from Moldova

Rohrabacher: Oh, well then that’s good, then the audience knows that you are biased.

Golodryga: I’m biased because I am an American citizen who was born in a foreign country?

Rohrabacher, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, said the former president would “love” his thoughts on Putin. The anchor may have forgotten that “Reagan was the one who reached out to [Mikhail] Gorbachev,” he added.

Golodryga asked if he was comparing the last Soviet leader to Putin.

“Absolutely I am,” the congressman responded. “The fact is they were both leaders of a very powerful country that we need to be friends with if we’re going to have peace in the world.”

That friendship doesn’t seem to extend to China.

Rohrabacher had harsh words for the East Asian country, which he said America didn’t need, despite its status as the world’s second largest economy and a prime trading partner.

“No we don’t need China, China’s against us... the Chinese are not our friends,” he said. “They’re the second largest economy because we have acted like fools and built up their economy, we have transferred wealth, we have transferred technology, we have opened our markets to them while they have controlled everything on their side. No, the Chinese dictators are not our friends.”

Trump has made dramatic moves counter to traditional diplomacy this month after he spoke with the president of Taiwan. The chat set off a firestorm as officials worried how the country would respond to the slight― including an official response from the White House reaffirming its firm commitment to a “one-China’ policy.” But a senior advisor to Trump didn’t seem to feel the same level of worry, telling a radio host “screw” China if they didn’t “like it.”

As to the discussions around his appointment, Rohrabacher declined to comment.

“I have been discussing this with some people high up in the transition team, but I’m really not at liberty to disclose those details,” he said.

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