O.C. congressman Dana Rohrabacher meets with WikiLeaks founder Assange, who denies Russia was involved in DNC leaks
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Costa Mesa congressman Dana Rohrabacher on Wednesday that Russia was not involved with leaking controversial emails from the Democratic National Committee during last year’s presidential campaign.
“He reaffirmed his aggressive denial that the Russians had anything to do with the hacking of the DNC during the election,” Rohrabacher said by phone from London. “He has given us a lot of information. He said there’s more to come. We don’t have the entire picture yet.”
The emails disrupted Hillary Clinton’s campaign by fueling criticism that the DNC had taken deliberate steps to favor Clinton over opponent Bernie Sanders. Some believe that the criticism that Democrats had rigged the primary contributed to her loss to Donald Trump.
U.S. intelligence agencies have expressed “high confidence” that Russia originally hacked the emails and relayed them to WikiLeaks. The leaked emails and associated hacking are part of ongoing investigations into the intelligence community’s belief that Russia meddled in the election.
Rohrabacher, a Republican who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats, has been among Trump’s most outspoken defenders. Like Trump, he has called for friendlier relations with Russia.
Rohrabacher said he met with Assange for three hours in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where the controversial figure has received asylum to avoid being extradited to face sexual assault charges in Sweden. Those charges have been dropped, but Assange could be arrested for violating terms of his bail.
Rohrabacher is the only U.S. congressman to have visited Assange, his office said.
“I think it will have an earth-shattering political impact,” Rohrabacher said of the information he received from Assange. “It wouldn’t be so important if Democrats hadn’t focused so inordinately on the Russians. Democrats are creating a total upheaval over this.”
However, Rohrabacher, who is a top target of national Democrats in next year’s elections, declined to detail the information he received from Assange.
“I have some information to give the president before I give information to anyone else,” he said.
While Assange and WikiLeaks say they’ve helped democracy by revealing wrongdoing by U.S. agencies over the years, CIA Director Mike Pompeo in April denounced WikiLeaks as a “hostile intelligence service” and a threat to U.S. national security.
And Attorney General Jeff Sessions has threatened to arrest Assange as the agency steps up efforts to prosecute people who leak classified information to the media.
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