Former Orange County lawmaker Dana Rohrabacher Wednesday denied claims by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s attorney that the ex-Republican congressman dangled a pardon in exchange for an announcement that Russia was not linked to the leaking of embarrassing emails to the Democratic Party in the 2016 presidential election.
President Donald Trump’s spokeswoman also denied he had anything to do with the claim by Assange, who is battling extradition from London to face charges in the United States.
“The president barely knows Dana Rohrabacher other than he’s an ex-congressman,” said White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham. “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 posted a statement on his website, stating, “There is a lot of misinformation floating out there regarding my meeting with Julian Assange so let me provide some clarity on the matter.”
Rohrabacher, who has moved from Orange County to Maine since being defeated by Rep. Harley Rouda, D-Newport Beach, two years ago, said “at no time did I talk to President Trump about Julian Assange.”
Rohrabacher added, “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.”
Rohrabacher said he was “shocked to find out that no other member of Congress had taken the time in their official or unofficial capacity to interview Julian Assange.”
Assange’s attorney, Edward Fitzgerald, alleged that in August 2017, the Wikileaks founder was offered a deal about two years before he was indicted in the United States if he would announce that Russia was not involved in Wikileak’s release of the emails and documents during the election.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted multiple people in Russia with hacking during the 2016 election, which included stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.
“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,” Rohrabacher said of his meeting with Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
“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,” Rohrabacher wrote. “At no time did I offer a deal made by the president, nor did I say I was representing the president.
“Upon my return, I spoke briefly with (former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly). I told him that Julian Assange would provide information about the purloined DNC emails in exchange for a pardon. No one followed up with me, including General Kelly, and that was the last discussion I had on this subject with anyone representing Trump or in his administration.”
Rohrabacher said he still encourages Trump to pardon Assange, “who is the true whisteblower of our time.”