Two of California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher‘s Democratic opponents lambasted him for calling racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month a “total hoax.”
In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Rohrabacher said it was possible that a “former Hillary (Clinton) or Bernie (Sanders) supporter” organized “Civil War re-enactors” to rally around a statue of Robert E. Lee.
“It was a setup for these dumb Civil War re-enactors,” the California Republican said. “It was left-wingers who were manipulating them in order to have this confrontation.”
“It’s all baloney,” he said.
Harley Rouda, who is one of Rohrabacher’s challengers, called Rohrabacher’s comments “dangerous.”
“Shame on Dana Rohrabacher for implying the death of Heather Heyer and the violence we all saw was a set up. His response today is nothIng short of deplorable,” Rouda said in a statement.
Stem cell researcher Hans Keirstead, another Democratic challenger, also criticized Rohrabacher’s remarks.
“I am angered and disturbed by the false claims made by Rep. Rohrabacher, but like many who live in his district — not surprised by them,” he said.
Rohrabacher said that the goal of the supposed liberal conspiracy would be to “put our president on the spot.”
Last month, protests by white supremacists and neo-Nazis against removing a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee led to violence and the killing of a counter-protester.
Afterward, after initially condemning violence on “many sides,” President Donald Trump condemned white supremacists in Charlottesville only to blame both sides a day later.
Keirstead also criticized Rohrabacher’s remarks about the intelligence community saying that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Rohrabacher told the Chronicle that conclusion was “total bulls–t.”
“With each new false claim, full-throated defense of Donald Trump, or Russian intelligence connection, the people of Orange County see who their congressman is truly fighting for — and it’s not them,” he said.
Rohrabacher recently met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Rohabacher’s district is being targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this cycle. Rohabacher’s district broke for Hillary Clinton last year, according to liberal website the Daily Kos.