Published: Thu, February 20, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Assange extradition hearing unearths surprise Trump allegation

Assange extradition hearing unearths surprise Trump allegation

At the final administrative hearing in Westminster Magistrates Court on Wednesday, Assange's barrister Edward Fitzgerald revealed that fellow defence solicitor Jennifer Robinson will outline the presidential pardon offer in a statement to the trial starting on Monday.

The White House on Wednesday denied an allegation that President Donald Trump had offered to pardon Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who is fighting extradition to the United States, if he absolved Russian Federation of hacking Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign.

According to multiple reports quoting Assange's lawyers, the super-leaker's legal team was prepared to show evidence and testimony that former Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) visited Assange back in 2017 at the Ecuadorian embassy in the British capital, and made the offer: deny Russian Federation was involved in obtaining the emails from DNC servers, and the Trump administration would provide a "pardon or some other way out" of criminal charges in America.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham called the claim a "complete fabrication and a total lie" in a statement, whilst putting distance between the president and the former lawmaker.

"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", Rohrabacher said. "He's never spoken to him on this subject or nearly any subject", Grisham said. Previous accounts have described Rohrabacher as freelancing an idea that he came up with on his own.

According to the statement described by Fitzgerald, Rohrabacher's mission was to offer Assange a United States pardon, if he would "play ball" by saying the Russians had nothing to do with the leak - an assertion Assange had previously made.

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

Trump is obviously still the president even after an investigation into those allegations, but if Assange's legal team is to be believed, he tried really, really fucking hard to distance himself from any suggestion of colluding with a foreign power - and allegedly offered one of the America's most-wanted men a Get Out Of Jail Free card in exchange for some positive testimony. He confirmed the account, saying that "The Wall Street Journal has the whole thing". Dana Rohrabacher, he told the court. Mueller, however, did not find evidence proving any conspiracy with the Trump campaign. The leaked emails were later published by WikiLeaks.

He faces 18 counts, 17 of which are under the Espionage Act.

He argues he was acting as a journalist entitled to First Amendment protection.

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