An attorney representing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange alleged in court Wednesday that President Trump offered to pardon Assange if he would deny any Russian involvement in the 2016 Democratic National Committee (DNC) hack.
Edward Fitzgerald, Assange’s lawyer, said in a London court that the president’s message had been passed on to Assange by former Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.) in 2017, a year after emails that damaged Hillary Clinton in the presidential race had been published. WikiLeaks posted the stolen DNC emails after they were hacked by Russian operatives.
Fitzgerald said a statement made by Jennifer Robinson, another lawyer for Assange, shows “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.”
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham on Wednesday denied the account.
“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 is a complete fabrication and a total lie. This is probably another never ending hoax and total lie from the DNC,” Grisham said in a statement.
The Daily Beast reports:
Assange has argued that he should not be extradited to the U.S. because the American case against him is politically motivated. He spent almost seven years hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in Central London claiming that he would be jailed in the U.S. if he wasn’t granted asylum. He was kicked out of the embassy last year.
His lawyers told the court that Trump’s alleged offer to pardon Assange proved that this was no ordinary criminal investigation.
Edward Fitzgerald, who was representing Assange in court, said he had evidence that a quid pro quo was put to Assange by Rohrabacher, who was known as Putin’s favorite congressman.
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser, who is presiding over Assange’s case, said the allegation would be admissible for a hearing next week regarding Assange’s legal battle to block attempts at extraditing him to the U.S, according to The Guardian.