Ex-US Lawmaker Rohrabacher Says Never Discussed Assange With Trump

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 20th February, 2020) Former US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said that he had never discussed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with President Donald Trump, however, he did promise to advocate for the whistleblower's pardon for information about the Democratic National Convention (DNC) emails.

On Wednesday, Assange's lawyer has alleged that Trump asked the former congressman to speak with his client to offer a pardon in exchange for a statement saying Russia did not have a role in the DNC leaks.

"At no time did I talk to President Trump about Julian Assange. Likewise, I was not directed by Trump or anyone else connected with him to meet with Julian Assange," Rohrabacher said in a statement on Wednesday. "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."

The former congressman added that he promised Assange to urge Trump to pardon him in exchange for informational and evidence of the DNC emails origin.

"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 said.

He admitted to having discussed the meeting with then-Chief of Staff John Kelly but said that nobody followed up on the matter.

"Upon my return, I spoke briefly with Gen. 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 Gen. Kelly and that was the last discussion I had on this subject with anyone representing Trump or in his Administration," Rohrabacher said.

The former lawmaker urged Trump in the end of his statement to pardon Assange, who he called "the true whistle-blower of our time."

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham in a statement earlier on Wednesday denied allegations that Trump directed Rohrabacher to offer the WikiLeaks founder a pardon if he would say Russia had no role in the DNC leaks.

Assange is indicted by a US court on 18 felony charges, mostly regarding the violations of the Espionage Act after he leaked classified cables that exposed US transgressions during the Iraq and Afghan wars. He faces five to 10 years in prison for each if convicted.

The WikiLeaks founder spent seven years in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London after skipping bail and asking for political asylum in 2012 to evade possible extradition to the United States.

The whistleblower was forced out of the embassy last year and is being held at a high-security prison in London pending an extradition trial, which is scheduled to begin on Monday. A UN rapporteur on torture has said that he showed signs of prolonged psychological torture.