Clinton and Sanders Supporters Behind "Hoax" Charlottesville White Supremacists, Says Congressman

Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher is blaming liberal Democrats for planning the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month. Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

The violent neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month was nothing more than "a total hoax" orchestrated by liberals who supported Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, according to a hard-right Republican representative.

"It's all baloney," Dana Rohrabacher told the San Francisco Chronicle, speaking of the rally where police said a car driven by a white supremacist injured 19 and killed counterprotester Heather Heyer.

"It was left-wingers who were manipulating them in order to have this confrontation," Rohrabacher said Thursday, in an effort to "put our president on the spot."

His claims are just the latest in a tit-for-tat fight between the representative and Democrats.

The Unite the Right rally held August 12 was attended by avowed white nationalist Richard Spencer, who helped lead a torchlit rally around a statue of Confederate army general Robert E. Lee in central Charlottesville the night before. Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin of the Daily Stormer website also promoted and defended the event online.

Related: Racism in America: Should the U.S. get rid of all Confederate monuments?

White supremacist Christopher Cantwell turned himself in to police at the end of August after finding out he was wanted on two counts of illegal use of tear gas and other gases. Hundreds of photos and videos on social media attest to the fact that the event was attended by neo-Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan and the so-called alt-right, a white nationalist movement.

Yet that's all bunk according to Rohrabacher, who pinned the events on a former "Hillary and Bernie supporter" who got Civil War re-enactors together to protect the statue of Lee, which would be removed under a proposal before Charlottesville's City Council.

"It was a setup for these dumb Civil War re-enactors," Rohrabacher said of the Charlottesville rally.

All this, he claims, was a ruse to box in President Donald Trump over the issue of racism in America. On the day of the rally and at a press conference at Trump Tower a couple of days later, the president said blame for the violence fell "on both sides." His response hurt his approval ratings among Republicans who saw his statements as divisive.

Rohrabacher's claims are "disturbing," the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) said Thursday. The group works to elect Democrats to the House of Representatives.

Both Rohrabacher's claims and the DCCC's response are the latest in a feud between the hard-right representative and Democrats who see him as a major Republican problem.

"Embattled Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, now apparently a person of interest to the Senate Intelligence Committee's Russia investigation, has no business chairing the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee that oversees Russia," said DCCC spokesman Tyler Law at the end of August.

Law called for Rohrabacher to be stripped of his post chairing the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, which handles issues covering Russia-U.S. relations. The issue is particularly sensitive after U.S. intelligence agencies issued reports earlier this year that Moscow directed a campaign to sway the election toward Trump.

Rohrabacher told the Chronicle that these findings are "total bull" and that the reports are "full of weasel words."

The Democrats went after the representative after congressional sources told CNN the Senate Intelligence Committee is considering calling Rohrabacher to answer questions after he met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London last month. During his meeting, Rohrabacher was flanked by Chuck Johnson, the operator of conspiracy theorist website, who has ties to alt-right conspiracy theorists.

WikiLeaks released emails that U.S. intelligence agencies said with "high confidence" were stolen by Russian intelligence from the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's campaign. Rohrabacher said he wants to debrief Trump on what Assange told him.

According to Rohrabacher, Assange insisted he was not behind the leak of the Democratic National Committee emails last year.

House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chair Ed Royce's failure to strip Rohrabacher of his position shows he is "unwilling to put country before party and unserious about the need to stop Russia from meddling in our elections," Law said.

"The DCCC, obviously embarrassed by the DNC's antics last year, does not know how to think strategically about foreign affairs and has descended to the guilt-by-association tactics reminiscent of America's Red Scares," Rohrabacher's spokesman, Ken Grubbs, told Newsweek, in an email last month. "It compounds its own embarrassment."