U.S. Admits GOP Lawmaker Offered Pardon To Assange If He Covered Up Russia Links
Lawyers for the United States at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition trial in the UK have accepted that Assange was offered a presidential pardon by former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) in exchange for covering up Russian involvement in hacking Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 election, according to The Daily Beast.
- Attorney Jennifer Robinson told the court she attended a meeting with Assange, Rohrabacher, and pro-Trumper Charles Johnson at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in August 2017.
- Robinson said the two men billed themselves as emissaries from Washington and “wanted us to believe they were acting on behalf of the president.”
- Rohrabacher and Johnson allegedly said they could help get a pardon for Assange if he provided information about the source of WikiLeaks information that proved Russia was not behind the DNC hack.
- Robinson said: “They stated that President Trump was aware of and had approved of them coming to meet with Mr. Assange to discuss a proposal—and that they would have an audience with the president to discuss the matter on their return to Washington, D.C.”
- The White House has denied that Trump took part in arranging a pardon for Assange.
- The Daily Beast noted that this is not the first time the pardon claim was raised:
The claim itself is not new—Assange’s lawyers previewed the allegation in a pre-trial hearing in February—but this is the first time Robinson’s testimony has been heard in full. The WikiLeaks lawyer said Rohrabacher offered Assange the deal a year after emails that damaged Hillary Clinton in the presidential race had been published, when the Russia investigation was gathering pace. The stolen DNC emails posted by WikiLeaks were hacked by Russian operatives.
- Lawyers representing the U.S. accepted Robinson’s statement as accurate but disputed that Trump stamped the pardon offer with his blessing.
James Lewis, who was representing the U.S. government, said: "The position of the government is we don't contest these things were said. We obviously do not accept the truth of what was said by others."
- Rohrabacher, who was known as ‘Putin’s favorite congressman’, corroborated the claim in part earlier this year, acknowledging that he spoke to Assange about petitioning Trump for a pardon if he would provide evidence on the WikiLeaks source.
“I spoke to Julian Assange and told him if he would provide evidence about who gave WikiLeaks the emails I would petition the president to give him a pardon... He knew I could get to the president.”
Rohrabacher said he followed up the meeting by calling then White House chief of staff John Kelly to discuss the pardon. However, the ex congressman said he never spoke to Trump about it.
Assange’s lawyers said he ultimately turned down the offer.