Donald Trump offered Julian Assange a ‘win-win’ deal through a political ally to avoid extradition if he disclosed the source behind leaked Democratic party emails, a court heard today.
Jennifer Robinson, one of the lawyer’s representing the WikiLeaks founder, said then Republican then-Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Trump associate Charles Johnson presented themselves as acting as conduits for the President to tout an arrangement.
They said Assange, 49, would be left alone to ‘get on with his life’ if he revealed the DNC hacking source, which was of ‘value’ to Mr Trump, Ms Robinson claimed.
The US government’s lawyer said it was not contesting the evidence but did not accept that Rohrabacher was telling the truth when he said he was acting on Trump’s behalf.
She said the two told her they wanted to resolve suspicion over Russia – which Trump has repeatedly claimed has not been proven to have hacked the DNC, in the teeth of his own intelligence community’s verdict.
Appearing to clear Russia would have been a huge boost to Trump as the meeting was during Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation into the country’s links to the Trump campaign.
Julian Assange (pictured in April 2019) is fighting extradition to the US following the leaks of hundreds of thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011
Jennifer Robinson, one of the lawyer’s representing Assange, made a statement to the Old Bailey today (pictured last week)
Donald Trump (pictured speaking during a rally in Wisconsin yesterday) offered Julian Assange a ‘win-win’ deal to avoid extradition if he disclosed the source behind leaked Democratic party emails, a court heard today
Assange is fighting extradition to the US following the leaks of hundreds of thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011.
At his extradition hearing at the Old Bailey today, Ms Robinson made a statement in which she recalled a meeting with the pair on August 15, 2017 at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where Assange was holed up until being turfed out last year.
In her statement that was read to the court, Robinson said the pair ‘wanted us to believe they were acting on behalf of the president’ and that they had stated that Trump was ‘aware of and had approved of them coming to meet’ with Assange to discuss the proposal.
She also said the pair said they would have an audience with the president to discuss the matter on their return to Washington.
Ms. Robinson said that Rohrabacher had said he had come to London to talk to Assange at his then-refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy about ‘what might be necessary to get him out,’ presenting him with a ‘win-win situation’ that would allow him to leave the embassy and ‘get on with his life’ without fear of being extradited to the U.S.
‘The proposal put forward by Congressman Rohrabacher was that Assange identify the source for the 2016 election publications in return for some kind of pardon, assurance or agreement which would both benefit President Trump politically and prevent U.S. indictment and extradition,’ Robinson said.
Lonk: Dana Rohrabacher was a Republican congressman when he went to Assange in London and offered him a ‘win-win’
Any information on the source of the link would be of ‘interest, value and assistance’ to Trump, the pair said, according to Robinson.
Robinson said that Rohrabacher explained at the meeting that he wanted to resolve the ongoing speculation about Russian involvement in the leaks. Russia has been widely blamed to have been behind the email theft. At the time of the meeting, special counsel Robert Mueller was investigating alleged ties between Russia and Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
Assange didn’t reveal the source of the leak of the Democratic National Committee emails, which were published by WikiLeaks, among others, in 2016 in the run-up to the election.
Rohrabacher, who lost his seat in the 2018 midterm elections, has previously said he never spoke with Trump about Assange and wasn’t directed by the president or anyone else connected with him to meet with Assange.
James Lewis, a lawyer acting on behalf of the U.S. government, said it wasn’t contesting that ‘these things’ were said.
‘We obviously do not accept the truth of what was said by others,’ he said.
She said: ‘The proposal put forward by Congressman Rohrabacher was that Mr Assange identify the source for the 2016 election publications in return for some kind of pardon, assurance or agreement which would both benefit President Trump politically and prevent US indictment and extradition.
‘The meeting was concluded on the basis that Congressman Rohrabacher would return to have a direct conversation with President Trump about exactly what would be done to prevent Mr Assange’s indictment and extradition.’
The barrister added that Assange did not provide any source of information.
James Lewis QC, for the US government, said: ‘The position of the government is we don’t contest these things were said. We obviously do not accept the truth of what was said by others.’
He is facing 18 charges – including plotting to hack computers and conspiring to obtain and disclose national defence information.
The hearing continues.