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Rep. Dana Rohrabacher denied that Russia had committed human-rights abuses while at the same time denouncing China in a testy exchange with a Yahoo News anchor.
Rohrabacher, a California Republican who has been named as a possible contender for secretary of state in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration, accused Yahoo’s Bianna Golodryga of bias for pointing out that, like China, Russia had been accused of human-rights abuses, calling the assertion “baloney.”
Rohrabacher has advocated a closer US relationship with Russia, but he also seems unconcerned about the US endangering its relationship with China.
“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,” Rohrabacher said. “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.”
Rohrabacher had also referred to China as a “vicious dictatorship” and “the world’s worst human-rights abuser.”
When Golodryga pointed out that Russia has also been accused of human-rights abuses, things got testy. Here’s the back-and-forth:
Golodryga: When you talk about human-rights abusers in China, much can be said about Russia as well in that regard.
Rohrabacher: Oh, baloney. Where do you come from? How can you say that?
Golodryga: I come form 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 – the audience knows that you are biased.
Golodryga: I’m biased, because I’m an American citizen who was born in a foreign country?
Rohrabacher: Yeah, yeah, when you start saying that Russia, do you know that there have been no political reforms in China? None.
Golodryga: I’m not saying, I’m not advocating that China be our best friend. I’m talking to you about Russia right now.
Rohrabacher: You just said that Russia and China are the same. I’m sorry – they are not.
Golodryga: I said they are both human-rights abusers. How am I wrong?
Rohrabacher: How are you wrong? In China they don’t have opposition force?
Golodryga: And Russia isn’t accused of murdering journalists?
Rohrabacher: Ah, OK, look. I’ll let the public decide with that last comment where you are coming from.
Soon after that, Rohrabacher compared Russian President Vladimir Putin to Mikhail Gorbachev, a former communist leader of the Soviet Union.
Watch the full exchange below: