Former GOP congressman Dana Rohrabacher tells Yahoo News in a new interview that, yes, he did talk to Julian Assange about getting the WikiLeaks founder a presidential pardon if Assange said that Russia was not responsible for the DNC email leak. However, he says he never actually spoke to President Trump about that offer. "I spoke to Julian Assange and told him if he would provide evidence about who gave WikiLeaks the emails I would petition the president to give him a pardon. He knew I could get to the president," Rohrabacher said. The ex-congressman says he then spoke to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly about the plan, but never heard back from Kelly and never spoke directly to Trump on the matter.
None of this means, as Slate points out, that Trump had anything to do with Rohrabacher's offer, as Assange's lawyer claims, and in a statement issued Thursday and obtained by CNN, Rohrabacher says he was on "my own fact finding mission" when he visited Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2017. "At no time did I offer a deal made by the President, nor did I say I was representing the President," Rohrabacher says. "Chronology matters," WikiLeaks had tweeted Wednesday after Assange's lawyer initially made the claim. "The meeting and the offer were made ten months after Julian Assange had already independently stated Russia was not the source of the DNC publication. The witness statement is one of the many bombshells from the defence to come." Meanwhile, the AP reports that as Assange's extradition hearing looms next week, his defense team says he will apply for asylum in France. (Read more Julian Assange stories.)