The FBI warned Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., in 2012 that Russian spies were attempting to recruit him as an "agent of influence," according to a new report.
Rohrabacher was made aware of Moscow's attempts during a meeting with an FBI agent in a secure room at the Capitol.
Law enforcement did not believe Rohrabacher was working with or paid by the Russians, but feared he was targeted, a former U.S. official told the New York Times.
The California Republican said the meeting with the agent focused on contact he had with a person of the Russian Foreign Ministry. "They were telling me he had something to do with some kind of Russian intelligence," Rohrabacher said.
The GOP lawmaker said the FBI agent warned him that Russia "looked at me as someone who could be influenced."
Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., who both served on the House Intelligence Committee, were also at the meeting.
Rohrabacher has been a staunch defender of Russia for years, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., joked last year about Rohrabacher's closeness to Moscow in a recording leaked to the Washington Post this week.
"There's two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump," McCarthy said. The majority leader said Wednesday he was making a joke.
The FBI is currently investigating ties between President Trump's associates and Russia. Reporters have also documented previously undisclosed meetings between those with ties to Trump and Russians.
Rohrabacher, though, has defended Trump and tried to lessen the possibility that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.
"Did they try to influence our election? We have tried to influence their elections and everybody's elections," Rohrabacher told the Los Angeles Times in March. "The American people are being fed information that would lead them to believe that we need to be in a warlike stance when it comes to Russia."