National Security

Rohrabacher tells Yahoo he discussed pardon with Assange for proof Russia didn’t hack DNC email

Former California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) said Thursday that he discussed a possible presidential pardon with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in exchange for proof that Russia didn’t hack into the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) email, Yahoo News reported

Rohrabacher told Yahoo News that he held a three-hour meeting at the Ecuadorian Embassy in August 2017 when he informed Assange of the potential deal. The former congressman said he aimed to gather proof for a widely debunked theory that former DNC staffer Seth Rich, who was killed in Washington in 2016, leaked the information, rather than Russian intelligence agents hacking the system. 

The theory would negate U.S. intelligence agencies’ and former special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors’ conclusions that Russian operatives hacked the DNC email.

“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. “He knew I could get to the president.”

He said in the interview that he wanted “truthful” information from Assange and was not pressuring him to “lie.”

The former congressman said he called then-White House chief of staff John Kelly after the meeting, saying Kelly was “courteous” but made no commitment to bring it up with President Trump. He didn’t speak to Kelly again on the matter and never had a direct discussion with the president.

Assange’s lawyer Edward Fitzgerald told a London court in his client’s extradition case against the U.S. that Trump had offered to pardon Assange if he released information that “said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC leaks.”

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham on Wednesday called Fitzgerald’s claim “complete fabrication.”

“The President barely knows Dana Rohrabacher other than he’s an ex-congressman,” she said in a statement. “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.”

Rohrabacher, who was defeated in the 2018 election, was known for defending Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump during the Russia investigations. He is now a consultant to the cannabis industry.

The DNC and the White House did not immediately return requests for comment. 

Tags 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee Dana Rohrabacher Democratic National Committee Donald Trump Extradition John Kelly Julian Assange presidential pardon Robert Mueller Russia Stephanie Grisham Vladimir Putin WikiLeaks Yahoo News

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