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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Wikileaks: Congressman Rohrabacher Doesn't Speak On Mr. Assange's Behalf; More To Come

WikiLeaks statement indicates O.C. congressman Dana Rohrabacher does not speak on Assange’s behalf

By Martin Wisckol | mwisckol@scng.com | Orange County Register

PUBLISHED: August 16, 2017 at 9:14 pm | UPDATED: August 17, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Updated, including a statement from WikiLeaks.

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, Rohrabacher said.

“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.”

On Thursday, WikiLeaks posted a statement on the its Twitter account that discussed the meeting but made no mention of whether Russia had a role in the leak. However, Assange has previously said that Russia was not the source.

The statement detailed issues about “ongoing proceedings against WikiLeaks” and concluded with a statement indicating that Rohrabacher was not speaking on his behalf.

“Mr. Assange does not speak through third parties,” it reads. “Only statements issued directly by him or his lawyers can be considered authoritative.”

The DNC emails disrupted Hillary Clinton’s campaign by fueling criticism that party leaders 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. The stop in London was part of a trip he paid for, with the primary purpose of celebrating his 20th wedding anniversary in France, spokesman Ken Grubbs 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.

About Assange

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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