Congressman Says He Was Blocked From Briefing Trump on WikiLeaks
A recent report in The Intercept says that California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher claimed to have told White House Chief of Staff John Kelly about a meeting he had last August with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. In the meeting, Rohrabacher told The Intercept, Assange provided definitive proof—to him and his traveling companion, Charles Johnson—that Russia was not the source of Democratic Party communications leaked during the 2016 presidential campaign.
According to The Intercept, Rohrabacher, a Republican, wanted to meet with President Trump in order to brief him on this information, but Kelly denied the request.
The Intercept reports:
Rohrabacher, who is considered broadly sympathetic with the Russian government, said he was told by Kelly that meeting with Trump could put the president in unnecessary legal jeopardy. “What is preventing me from talking to Trump about this is the existence of a special prosecutor,” Rohrabacher said. “Not only Kelly, but others are worried if I say one word to Trump about Russia, that it would appear to out-of-control prosecutors that that is where the collusion is.”
Assange did not want to release the evidence publicly, Rohrabacher said, because he didn’t want to expose his sources and methods. (Assange didn’t respond to a request for comment.)
Rohrabacher was accompanied on his trip by controversial right-wing activist Charles Johnson, who is suing Twitter for banning him from the website. Johnson seconded Rohrabacher’s claim that Assange had offered evidence that Russia was not his source, but was less forgiving of Kelly’s decision. “I think it’s odd that Kelly vouched for serial wife abuser Rob Porter, but won’t have longtime patriot Dana Rohrabacher meet with [Trump] about Assange and Russia,” he said.
But for other elements of the GOP foreign policy establishment, for which Russia is seen as a top adversary, Kelly’s decision was a no-brainer. “In no universe should Trump be anywhere near Rohrabacher for any reason. Ever,” said Kristofer Harrison, who worked on Russia issues for both Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during the Bush administration. “Rohrabacher went to Russia to help spike the Global Magnitsky Act, a topic related to Don Jr. and Jared’s Trump Tower meeting with Russian spies. He publicly thanked Russia for its Syria efforts. He met with Vladimir Yakunin, who is on the U.S. sanctions list.”
In November, The New York Times reported on strong ties between Rohrabacher and Russia. According to its report, the FBI at one point even let Rohrabacher know that Russia regarded him as an intelligence source and that Russian spies were trying to recruit him as an “agent of influence” back in 2012.
In January, Assange repeated his claim that the Russian government was not the source of hacked Democratic campaign emails. In an interview with Fox News, he said, “Our source is not the Russian government. It is not state parties.”