Paul Behrends, a top aide to Representative Dana Rohrabacher, has been ousted from his role as staff director for the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee that Rohrabacher chairs, after stories appeared in the press highlighting his relationships with pro-Russia lobbyists.
“Paul Behrends no longer works at the committee,” a House Foreign Affairs Committee spokesperson said on Wednesday evening.
Behrends accompanied Rohrabacher on a 2016 trip to Moscow in which Rohrabacher said he received anti-Magnitsky Act materials from prosecutors. The Magnitsky Act is a 2012 bill that imposes sanctions on Russian officials associated with the 2009 death in prison of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who had been investigating tax fraud. Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian attorney and lobbyist who met with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower last year, reportedly brought up the Magintsky Act during the meeting.
Rohrabacher’s meeting in Moscow was an object of concern for embassy officials, who had warned the delegation about FSB presence in Moscow—warnings Rohrabacher brushed off.
“Paul Behrends has done a terrific job for me and the committee,” Rohrabacher said in a statement on Wednesday. “I have not heard anything to the contrary. I am looking forward to discussing this with the committee leadership. I am sure we will work this out."