After a Wednesday meeting with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) is convinced that Russia did not leak emails damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign to WikiLeaks during the 2016 election. And he wants to tell the President all that and more.
The lengthy sit-down, first reported by the Daily Caller, was held at at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where Assange has taken asylum for the past five years after facing a sexual assault charge in Sweden.
“Assange emphatically stated that the Russians were not involved in the hacking or disclosure of those emails,” Rohrabacher said in a statement on the meeting, which he said lasted three hours.
The statement noted, as a point of pride, that Rohrabacher is “the only U.S. congressman to have visited the controversial figure “and that the California Republican planned to “divulge more of what he found directly to President Trump.”
Rohrabacher, who’s been dubbed “Putin’s favorite congressman” and who House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) once joked that he believes is one of “two people I think Putin pays” besides Trump, has been leading a lonely campaign to prove that Russia did not intervene in the U.S. presidential race since Trump won the White House in November.
Recently, he’s promoted a months-old report put out by retired intelligence officials that he claims offers incontrovertible proof that the “so-called hacking of the Democratic National Committee” was “an inside job made to look like Moscow’s handiwork.” The report, which came out before Trump’s inauguration, offers little evidence on this front, instead questioning the intelligence community’s collective analysis that Russia was the culprit.
Republicans leading congressional investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election disagree with Rohrabacher’s assessment.
Rohrabacher’s spokesman, Ken Grubbs, confirmed to TPM that right-wing blogger and agitator Chuck Johnson was also in the meeting with Assange. Johnson told the Daily Caller that he arranged the conversation on Assange’s behalf because the WikiLeaks founder hopes to strike a deal with the U.S. that will allow him to finally leave the embassy.
Asked by TPM for comment on what this deal would entail, and why he is playing middleman, Johnson sent an email reading simply: “No thank you.” Grubbs declined to elaborate on Johnson’s relationship with Rohrabacher.
Johnson recently told the news site that he was contacted by the Senate Intelligence Committee in relation to its ongoing probe into Russia’s election interference.
This post has been updated.