On Wednesday, a London court was informed that the US President Donald Trump has promised to pardon the Australian activist and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange if he would say Russia was not involved in leaking Democratic party emails.
The extraordinary claim was made at Westminster magistrates court ahead of the opening next week of Assange’s legal battle to block attempts to extradite him to the US, where he faces charges for publishing hacked documents. The lawyer of Assange, Jennifer Robinson, said in a report that Trump relayed the offer through former US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.
Soon after, the White House issued a refusal that Trump had dangled a pardon in exchange for help in the Russian controversy that has cast a shadow over his first term in office.
Trump press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement, “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.”
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party described the news to be completely fake. “This is probably another never-ending hoax and total lie,” the party said.
A few hours later, Dana Rohrabacher said in a statement, “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. I was on my own fact-finding mission at personal expense to find out information I thought was important to our country.”
“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 added.
Rohrabacher had long been a voice in Congress in defense of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. He was voted out of office in 2018.
The story began ahead of the 2016 election when WikiLeaks published some leaked emails that contained embarrassing details about the Democratic Party and were seen to have damaged its presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.
The 24-year-old Australian national, Assange is facing 18 counts in the US, 17 of them are under the Espionage Act. He could face up to 175 years in jail if found guilty. He also faces charges for working with the former US army intelligence analyst Chelsa Manning to leak hundreds of thousands of classified documents.