In a new interview with Yahoo News, former California Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher confirmed that he did speak to Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2017 about turning over information that could prove the widely-debunked conspiracy theory that Russians did not hack the Democratic National Committee emails.
In exchange, Rohrabacher promised to approach Donald Trump about a pardon for Assange.
In a phone interview with Yahoo News, Rohrabacher said his goal during the meeting was to find proof for a widely debunked conspiracy theory: that WikiLeaks’ real source for the DNC emails was not Russian intelligence agents, as U.S. officials have since concluded, but former DNC staffer Seth Rich, who was murdered on the streets of Washington in July 2016 in what police believe was a botched robbery.
A lawyer for Assange in London on Wednesday cited the pardon offer from Rohrabacher during a court hearing on the U.S. government’s request to extradite the WikiLeaks founder.
Rohrabacher said that not only did talk of a Trump pardon take place during his meeting, but he also followed up by calling then-White House chief of staff John Kelly to discuss the proposal. He did not, however, ever speak to Trump about it, he said.
Rohrabacher, who lost reelection to his House seat in 2018, has been a longtime defender of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Law enforcement officials had long said they’ve found no evidence that Rich’s death was related to his work at the DNC or that he played any role in the leaking of party emails.
Donald “I don’t know nothing about Wikileaks” Trump
As I reported earlier today, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London today after hiding out in the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012.
Asked by the press today if he “still loves Wikileaks,” Donald Trump pretended to “know nothing about Wikileaks.”
"I know nothing about Wikileaks, it's not my thing," Pres. Trump says when asked if he "still loves Wikileaks" following arrest of founder Julian Assange. Then-candidate Trump repeatedly praised the organization during the final weeks of the 2016 campaign. https://t.co/EDXbyTbtExpic.twitter.com/eEqMMJWCIb— ABC News (@ABC) April 11, 2019
And yet, back in October 2016, Trump extolled the virtues of Wikileaks after they released thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee.
Trump repeatedly said he “loved” the organization when it was releasing emails related to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Trump Oct 2016: “WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks.”
Trump Oct 2016: “This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove,”
Trump Nov 2016: “Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks.”
Let’s go to the video tape!
Trump just said he knows “nothing about” WikiLeaks after founder Julian Assange’s arrest.
But in 2016, the president used WikiLeaks’ disclosures to repeatedly bash Hillary Clinton during the campaign pic.twitter.com/KdBEgTOWZB
The United States has charged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of conspiring to hack a computer as part of the 2010 release of reams of secret American documents, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday, putting him just one flight away from being in American custody after years of seclusion in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
The single charge, conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, was filed a year earlier, in March 2018, and stems from what prosecutors said was his agreement to break a password to a classified United States government computer. It carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and is significant in that it is not an espionage charge, a detail that will come as a relief to press freedom advocates. The United States government had considered until at least last year charging him with an espionage-related offense.
Mr. Assange, 47, has been living at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012. British authorities arrested him on Thursday, heavily bearded and disheveled. A dramatic video showed him shackled and being carried out of the embassy and forced into a police van. He was detained partly in connection with an American extradition warrant after he was evicted by the Ecuadoreans.
VIDEO: UK media outlets are broadcasting video claiming to be the moment Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was arrested and removed from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London after seven years. pic.twitter.com/0IBPWiVCNi
Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, testified before a congressional committee in February that Trump’s close friend and adviser Roger Stone had bee in contact with Assange before WikiLeaks released leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee in 2016.
GOP Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska chimed in about the arrest via Twitter:
Me with Arminae Austen and Matt Zarley in Fort Worth, Texas 1999
Some news items you might have missed:
• Since it’s Thursday, how about a little #Throwback action? The pic above was from a production of A Chorus Line I directed back in 1999 at Casa Mañana in Fort Worth, Texas. I wasn’t originally going to be in the show but the producers eventually asked if I would also play the role of “Bobby” since I had many times before. Pictured with my besties from the Broadway production of ACL who came down to kill it, and kill it they did, Matt Zarley and Arminae Austen.
• The Ecuadorian embassy has placed jammers in its own building to block WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from access to the internet, social media or even phone calls. Assange has been living in the embassy since 2012 believing he’ll be picked up and extradited to the United States for questioning over activities by WikiLeaks.
• A high-level Trump campaign official had repeated communications in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign with a business associate tied to Russian intelligence, according to a document released on Tuesday by the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the election. Remember when the story was “There was NO communication by anyone on the Trump campaign with Russians?”
• Did you hear the one about Donald Trump’s lawyer dangling pardons to former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn and former campaign chair Paul Manafort? #ObstructionOfJustice?
• Always keeping in mind that nature is beautiful but can be just as dangerous, check out this incredible video of a cheetah on the hunt who jumped into a jeep to check things out. Gorgeous, exciting but scary as hell. The passenger didn’t make eye contact so he wouldn’t seem a threat. #WOW
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange chimed in via Twitter regarding the Milo Yiannopoulos “pedophilia” controversy last night.
It was just this past Saturday that Yiannopolous was officially announced to give the keynote speech at CPAC this week, but the next day video came to light where Milo seemed to defend adult men having sex with young boys.
In short time, Yiannopoulos was disinvited to CPAC, and Simon & Schuster cancelled his $250K book deal.
Tweeted Assange: “US ‘liberals’ today celebrate the censorship of right-wing UK provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos over teen sex quote.”
He followed up with, “Issue is ‘liberals’ cheering on a clearly illiberal act — book censorship — for political reasons with morality as cover.”
Yiannopoulos is holding a press conference at 3 pm today in New York City.
US ‘liberals’ today celebrate the censorship of right-wing UK provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos over teen sex quote.https://t.co/bz6dH0jyhk
Last week, Wikileaks tweeted that if President Obama were to grant Chelsea Manning clemency, Julian Assange would agree to US extradition.
Yesterday Obama commuted Manning’s 35 year sentence to 7 years, with release in May of this year. The White House did not indicate that Manning’s commutation was related in any way to Assange.
That being said, it’s no surprise today that Wikileaks and Assange have now reneged on their offer.
From The Hill:
The lawyer for Julian Assange said President Obama’s commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence does not meet the conditions of the WikiLeaks head’s offer to be extradited to the United States if Manning were pardoned. Obama on Tuesday commuted Manning’s sentence for leaking diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, leading many to wonder whether that meant Assange was ready to surrender to the Department of Justice.
“Mr. Assange welcomes the announcement that Ms. Manning’s sentence will be reduced and she will be released in May, but this is well short of what he sought,” said Barry Pollack, Assange’s U.S.-based attorney, via email. “Mr. Assange had called for Chelsea Manning to receive clemency and be released immediately.”
Assange has not been publicly charged with a crime by US authorities, but his team maintains that charges are likely “under seal” – a tactic in which charges are kept secret in order to prevent suspects from fleeing. The White House yesterday denied that Manning’s commutation had anything to do with Julian Assange.
President-elect Donald Trump made a slight course correction today after trashing the U.S. intelligence community with tweets over the last few weeks, and recently siding with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on the issue of Russia’s recent cyber-hacking during the presidential election:
Julian Assange said “a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta” – why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!
A Tuesday morning WikiLeaks event in Berlin did not produce the “#OctoberSurprise” to derail Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign that many Trump followers were hoping for, but Julian Assange said he would release more documents before Election Day.
A Tuesday morning press conference by WikiLeaks, which Clinton antagonists and conspiracy theorists had hoped would spell the beginning of the end of her presidential campaign, turned out to be a celebration-cum-infomercial for the website, which celebrates its 10th anniversary today and is promoting a new book.
Either WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, never really had the goods on Clinton, or Donald Trump and his supporters just got wickedly trolled.
For months, WikiLeaks has been hinting that it would release damaging documents about Clinton in the home stretch of the presidential campaign. The group had posted embarrassing emails stolen by hackers from the Democratic National Committee in July, leaving the world wondering, what else does Assange have in his hard drive?
Egged on by the apparently unfounded claims of Trump adviser Roger Stone that WikiLeaks had a campaign-ending document dump in store, anticipation reached a fever pitch. According to Google, the top trending question about Trump’s opponent on Monday was “What could WikiLeaks have on Clinton?”
Turns out, probably not much. There was no spectacular release of private emails. No bombshells about the Clinton Foundation or brain tumors. Instead, Assange and some of his WikiLeaks colleagues used the press conference to make a pitch for donations and to note the remarkable quantity of the site’s work—10 million documents published, containing more than 10 billion words, which the group claims is “more secret documents than the rest of the world’s media combined.”