An attorney for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange reportedly alleged in court on Wednesday that President Donald Trump offered a pardon for the controversial figure if he would say that the Russians were not responsible for the hack into the DNC servers that resulted in the stolen emails that Wikileaks published in the months preceding the 2016 election.
Assange spent most of the last decade in the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he was granted asylum so that he wouldn’t be extradited to the United States where he faces charges.
One of Assange’s lawyers said in a statement, “Mr. Rohrabacher going to see Mr. Assange and saying, on instructions from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr Assange … said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC leaks,” per The Guardian.
Rohrabacher was known as an outlier in the Republican Party for his pro-Russian sympathies. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) quipped in 2016 that he thinks Rohrabacher is on Putin’s payroll.
The Trump administration is denying the assertion from Assange’s lawyers, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said on Wednesday, “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’s a complete fabrication and a total lie. This is probably another never-ending has and total lie from the DNC.”
Grisham on Assange: “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"— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) February 19, 2020
In 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported that Rohrabacher was allegedly in talks with the White House to offer a pardon to Assange if the Wikileaks founder would announce that Russia was not behind the DNC emails that Wikileaks published. On the same day, Rohrabacher told CBS, “It’s a confidential interaction with myself and the White House to determine what can be offered” to Assange.
The statement from Assange’s lawyers comes only a day after Trump commuted the sentence of a former Illinois governor.