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Secretary of state candidate Rep. Dana Rohrabacher defends Russia, denounces China

Secretary of state candidate Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., said in an interview Wednesday that the United States cooperating with Russia is a good thing and that China is not America’s friend.

“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,” said Rohrabacher, “well that’s a good thing, and that’s what this is all about. Russia is no longer the Soviet Union. 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. 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.”

The California congressman has been rumored as a candidate to lead the State Department in the Trump administration. Rohrabacher has been referred to as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “favorite congressman,” and he said that while most of his colleagues may view that as a negative, he doesn’t mind advocating it. Rohrabacher was a speechwriter for the Ronald Reagan White House and arm-wrestled Putin at a Washington, D.C., bar in the 1990s, when the Russian president was just a deputy mayor.

In a contentious exchange with Yahoo News and Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga, Rohrabacher compared Putin to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. When Golodryga brought up Russia’s history of alleged human rights abuses, he responded, “Oh, baloney — where do you come from?” Golodryga said she immigrated to the United States from the former Soviet republic of Moldova as a political refugee.

“Then the audience knows you’re biased,” Rohrabacher retorted.

Rohrabacher said that President-elect Donald Trump speaking on the phone with the president of Taiwan — which broke a diplomatic norm dating back to 1979 — was the correct decision.

“The answer to your question specifically is absolutely yes,” said Rohrabacher when asked if now was the time to provoke China. “The last thing that’s going to motivate the Chinese is that they want to do favors for us because we’re kowtowing to them, we’re telling them how sincere friends we want to be to these vicious dictatorships that run Beijing and North Korea.

“If the Chinese are ever going to intercede for us, it’s going to be based on that we have a strong leader who’s not a pushover and a strong leader who will actually threaten them — not military action against them — but threaten them with consequences if they’re supporting the military dictatorship attaining nuclear weapons power in Korea. So it was exactly the right thing to do.”

When asked about his potential candidacy for secretary of state, Rohrabacher said he was flattered to be considered.

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