The White House is denying a claim by a lawyer for Julian Assange that President Donald Trump offered to pardon the WikiLeaks founder if he agreed to say Russia was not involved in leaking Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Assange’s legal team made the claim to a court in London on Wednesday. Assange is fighting extradition to the United States on spying charges. A lawyer for Assange alleged the offer was made in 2017 by Dana Rohrabacher, who was then a Republican congressman from California.
But White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham called the accusation a “total lie.”
“The president barely knows Dana Rohrabacher, other than he’s an ex-congressman,” Grisham told reporters. “He’s never spoken to him on this subject or almost any subject. It is a complete fabrication and a total lie.”
Assange lawyer Edward Fitzgerald said a statement from another of the lawyers on the legal team, recounted “"Mr. Rohrabacher going to see Mr. Assange and saying, on instructions from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr. Assange ... said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC leaks.”
The New York Times noted the Assange claim came the day after Trump had pardoned numerous high-profile white-collar criminals.
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