Trump offered to pardon Assange if he denied Russia helped leak Democrats' emails: Lawyer

WION Web Team London, United Kingdom Feb 20, 2020, 10.54 AM(IST)

File photo of Julian Assange. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

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The pardon would come on the condition that Assange says the Russians were not involved in the email leak that damaged Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in 2016 against Trump, Rohrabacher's statement said.

US President Donald Trump offered to pardon WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange if he denied Russia's association with WikiLeaks' publication of Democratic Party emails in 2016, a London court heard on Wednesday.

The pardon would come on the condition if Assange agreed the Russians were not involved in the email leak that damaged Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in 2016 against Trump, Rohrabacher's statement said.

Also read: Clinton says WikiLeaks worked with Russia to deflect attention from infamous Trump tape

Assange's lawyer Jennifer Robinson said in a document that Trump relayed the offer through former US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.

The White House quickly denied the assertion and said that Trump had dangled a pardon in exchange for help in the Russia controversy, which has cast a shadow over his first term in office.

"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," Trump's press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

"This is probably another never-ending hoax and a total lie" by the Democratic Party," she said, a day after Trump controversially pardoned or issued other forms of clemency to 11 people including a former governor jailed for corruption, and other high-profile white-collar criminals.

Also read: Emboldened, Donald Trump defends right to interfere in criminal cases

The revelation came at a case management hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court before Monday's formal start of Washington's extradition request for him to face espionage charges.

Rohrabacher, likewise, said he never spoke with the president about Assange. 

In a statement, the former lawmaker denied he had been sent on Trump's behalf and said he was acting on his own when he offered to ask Trump for a pardon if Assange would say how he got the emails.

Also read: Trump campaign may also have colluded with WikiLeaks: Mueller probe 

He said he relayed Assange's willingness to cooperate to Trump's then-chief of staff, John Kelly, but said he heard nothing further from the White House.

US intelligence agencies had concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to try to help Trump win, in part by hacking and releasing emails embarrassing to Clinton.

Russia denied meddling and Trump denied any campaign collusion with Moscow. A probe by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not establish that members of Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia during the election.

Assange, 48, who spent seven years holed up in Ecuador's London embassy before he was dragged out last April, is wanted in the United States on 18 counts including conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law.