Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) sought a deal with the White House that would grant WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a pardon or other act of clemency in exchange for information that he said would absolve Russia of blame for the hacking of Democratic email accounts, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

In a phone call with White House chief of staff John Kelly on Wednesday, Rohrabacher, who has long made favorable comments about Russia, said that the deal would involve President Trump issuing a pardon or “something like that” to Assange. Asssange’s WikiLeaks published some of the emails obtained through Russian-backed hackers.

In exchange, according to the Journal, Assange would provide a storage device containing evidence that Russia was not behind the DNC email hacks that led to the release of embarrassing internal messages last summer.

{mosads}“He would get nothing, obviously, if what he gave us was not proof,” Rohrabacher said, according to the Journal.

Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he until recently faced allegations of sexual assault.

While that investigation ended earlier this year, Assange has stayed at the embassy to avoid possible extradition to the U.S.

Also in his phone call with Kelly, Rohrabacher reportedly proposed a meeting between Assange and a Trump representative with a direct line of communication to the president.

Rohrabacher travelled to London early last month to meet with Assange. During that meeting, the California Republican said Assange offered him “firsthand” information purportedly proving that the Trump campaign did not collude with Russia to help sway the 2016 election.

That meeting wasn’t paid for by the U.S. government, and was not considered an official congressional trip.

Rohrabacher has since suggested that Trump could pardon the embattled WikiLeaks founder — a prospect viewed dimly by individuals in the intelligence community. Rohrabacher is considered among the most pro-Russian members of Congress.

Trump himself has publicly praised WikiLeaks and Assange for casting doubt on the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election in order to swing the race in the real estate mogul’s favor.

On the campaign trail last year, Trump gave a speech in which he encouraged Russian hackers to obtain and release Hillary Clinton’s undisclosed emails. Trump’s spokesman later claimed that the then-candidate was joking.

Updated at 6:18 p.m.  

Tags Hillary Clinton John Kelly Wikileaks

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