Former GOP Rep Says He Discussed Potential Pardon With Wikileaks' Julian Assange
Former Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.) said he told WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange that he would ask President Donald Trump about granting him a pardon if he produced information that said Russian operatives did not hack the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) server.
Rohrabacher told Yahoo News that he met Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in 2017 to discuss the potential deal.
In the interview, Rohrabacher said he wanted Assange to find evidence that a DNC staffer who was murdered in 2016 — Seth Rich — was the individual behind the hack of the DNC’s email servers. That hack led to the release of damaging information in the middle of a presidential campaign.
“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,” Rohrabacher told Yahoo News, adding, “He knew I could get to the president.”
He added that they discussed the idea with former Chief of Staff John Kelly, who “knew this had to be handled with care” but did not guarantee that he would mention the idea of a pardon for Assange directly to Trump.
Rohrabacher said he didn’t want Assange to lie or make up information, but rather to release information that would show it was Reich who was behind the leak of the emails.
He added that he believes there is evidence that Reich was really behind the hacking. There was a theory that Rich was murdered because he leaked sensitive information from the DNC. However, police believe Rich’s death was robbery related.
NPR reported that Russian intelligence operatives pushed the theory as part of their efforts to sow disinformation in the country during the election. Additionally, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller detailed the Russians’ hacking operation in his report on his investigation of Russian intervention in the 2016 campaign.
Rohrabacher’s interview comes after Assange’s lawyer said in during a court hearing that the former California congressman had discussed a potential pardon with Assange.
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham denied the allegations, “The President barely knows Dana Rohrabacher other than he’s an ex-congressman. He’s never spoken to him on this subject or almost any subject. It is a complete fabrication and a total lie. This is probably another never ending hoax and total lie from the DNC.”
Additionally, in a post on his website on Wednesday, Rohrabacher wrote, “There is a lot of misinformation floating out there regarding my meeting with Julian Assange so let me provide some clarity on the matter: At no time did I talk to President Trump about Julian Assange. Likewise, I was not directed by Trump or anyone else connected with him to meet with Julian Assange. I was on my own fact finding mission at personal expense to find out information I thought was important to our country.”
“At no time did I offer Julian Assange anything from the President because I had not spoken with the President about this issue at all. However, when speaking with Julian Assange, I told him that if he could provide me information and evidence about who actually gave him the DNC emails, I would then call on President Trump to pardon him. At no time did I offer a deal made by the President, nor did I say I was representing the President.”
Rohrabacher, who lost his 2018 re-election, was a supporter of Trump and known for his pro-Russian views.
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