Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. (Paul Holston/AP)

Harley Rouda, a Democrat running against Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) in 2018, has asked the FBI to probe the Republican congressman’s “political and financial ties to Russia” after Rohrabacher met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

It’s actually the second letter Rouda has written to the FBI about the congressman, who was first elected in 1988, and who’s expected to face a stiffer challenge this year after his district swung to support Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in the presidential election. Rohrabacher’s support for a strategic alliance with Russia, rare in his party, has been an open (and occasionally ridiculed) subject for years. But the Assange meeting, which Rohrabacher kept quiet until media exposure drove him to publicize it, pushed Rouda to take further action.

“Despite the fact that intelligence agencies across the globe have repeatedly and continuously asserted that WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange coordinated with Russian actors in their leaks of DNC emails, and that Rohrabacher’s colleagues have claimed that he is paid by Vladimir Putin, Rohrabacher took this meeting anyway,” Rouda wrote in the letter.

Rohrabacher has characterized the meeting with Assange as productive and convincing. In a statement released on Thursday, Rohrabacher said that he met with Assange for three hours, during which he “emphatically stated that the Russians were not involved in the hacking or disclosure” of emails from Clinton’s campaign and various Democratic campaign groups.

After being sent the text of Rouda’s letter, Rohrabacher said, through a spokesman, that “if anybody’s politicizing foreign policy, it ain’t me.” On Twitter, Assange suggested that he might pursue legal action against Rouda.

Rouda responded quickly with a dare. “Julian, looking forward to deposing you here in the United States,” he tweeted. “When are you coming?”

Rouda’s letter is below. The Orange County businessman is one of seven Democrats challenging Rohrabacher in next year’s “jungle primary,” after which the top two finishers will meet again in a November general election.

To: Los Angeles Field Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation
From: Harley E. Rouda Jr.
Subject: Congressman Dana Rohrabacher

To Whom It May Concern:

In light of an article in the Aug. 17, 2017, edition of the Los Angeles Times entitled: “Rep. Dana Rohrabacher meets with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, plans to tell Trump what he heard,” I’d like to amend my original letter to the FBI to include this disturbing new information demonstrating the potential depths of Rohrabacher’s political and financial ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin.

Despite the fact that intelligence agencies across the globe have repeatedly and continuously asserted that WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange coordinated with Russian actors in their leaks of DNC emails, and that Rohrabacher’s colleagues have claimed that he is paid by Vladimir Putin, Rohrabacher took this meeting anyway.

In the statement released by Rohrabacher’s office and his subsequent interview with the Daily Caller, it was revealed that Congressman Dana Rohrabacher not only met with the infamous fugitive Julian Assange, but that he and Assange also talked about “what might be necessary to get [Assange] out” and discussed a pardon from Trump.

As an American citizen, I strongly urge you to open up an investigation as soon as possible and if necessary, subpoenaing the necessary documents to make a determination about Congressman Rohrabacher’s potential unlawful ties to Russia and its officials. The American public needs to definitively know whether Rohrabacher has any financial ties to the Russian regime.

Sincerely,
Harley E. Rouda Jr.