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.
He issued a statement on his website in February 2019 after news of the encounter broke, in order to combat 'misinformation.'
'At no time did I talk to President Trump about Julian Assange. Likewise, I was not directed by Trump or anyone else connected with him to meet with Julian Assange,' Rohrabacher wrote.
'I was on my own fact finding mission at personal expense to find out information I thought was important to our country. I was shocked to find out that no other member of Congress had taken the time in their official or unofficial capacity to interview Julian Assange. At no time did I offer Julian Assange anything from the President because I had not spoken with the President about this issue at all,' he continued.
'However, when speaking with Julian Assange, I told him that if he could provide me information and evidence about who actually gave him the DNC emails, I would then call on President Trump to pardon him.'
Although he says he did not offer a pardon, upon his return he revealed he spoke with then White House chief of staff John Kelly.
'I told him that Julian Assange would provide information about the purloined DNC emails in exchange for a pardon.' He said no one followed up.
He concluded his statement by calling on Trump to pardon Assange, whom he called 'the true whistleblower of our time.' He then appended a line calling for an 'honest investigation' into the murder of Democratic campaign staffer Seth Rich – a conspiracy theory that Russian intelligence pushed from its infancy.
The White House last year said Trump 'barely knows' Rohrabacher, although the lawmaker, one of the most sympathetic to Vladimir Putin during his time in Congress, had met with Trump at the White House in 2017.
On a 2015 official congressional trip to Moscow, Rohrabacher met with Vladimir Yakunin, a Putin confidant who had been blacklisted by the Treasury Department. He received and passed on critical of Sergei Magnitsky, and pushed to drop Magnitsky' s name from the anti-corruption law that bears his name.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report identified Russian military intelligence, the GRU, as transferring hacked emails from the DNC and Hillary Clinton's campaign chair John Podesta to Wikileaks.
'Thus, although it is clear that the stolen DNC and Podesta documents were transferred from the GRU to WikiLeaks,' it writes, with the remainder of the sentence blocked out.
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.