The founder of WikiLeaks has declined to cooperate with the House Judiciary Committee’s sweeping documents request, which is part of a broad investigation into President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE's administration, campaign and businesses.
"Mr. Assange has not yet responded to the Committee’s request. The First Amendment dictates that any inquiry by Congress should not begin by issuing requests to journalists for documents pertaining to their news gathering," Julian Assange's lawyer, Barry Pollack, told The Hill on Thursday.
The news was first reported by Politico.
Assange has come under scrutiny for publishing hacked emails from the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAttorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Durham seeking indictment of lawyer with ties to Democrats: reports Paul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book MORE and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) during the 2016 election, and he has dismissed criticism of his actions by stating that he acted just as other journalists have when they decide to make confidential documents public.
Despite this defense, a U.S. intelligence community assessment concluded that the whistleblower organization was actively involved in obtaining as well as publishing such emails, which caused a massive embarrassment to the Democratic Party during the heated presidential race.
Russian operatives penetrated DNC servers after sending dozens of phishing emails to staff, in which they received a fake Google notification asking them to change their password. One person did, leading these hackers to gain access to internal communications that were eventually turned over to WikiLeaks.
Assange is one of the 81 individuals and entities who were hit with the House Judiciary Committee's document requests, and he is one of several who have publicly stated they will not cooperate with the panel.
Assange, a fugitive, currently resides in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Under these circumstances, it will be difficult for the panel to compel him to provide such documentation while he is remains outside the U.S.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerAngelina Jolie spotted in Capitol meeting with senators House panel advances immigration language for reconciliation bill Hillicon Valley —Apple is not a monopoly, judge rules MORE (D-N.Y.) has said the investigation is focusing on possible corruption, obstruction of justice and ethics violations.
– This story was updated at 2:55 p.m. with comments from Assange's lawyer