For more than a month, an eccentric pro-Russian Republican congressman has been publicly discussing his plan to meet with President Donald Trump to discuss what he learned firsthand from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. It seems that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s (R-CA) message hasn’t gotten through.
“I’ve never heard that mentioned, really,” Trump told the White House press pool Sunday when asked about plans to potentially pardon Assange in exchange for his information. “I’ve never heard that mentioned.”
Though the U.S. intelligence community agrees that Russia was behind a multi-faceted “influence campaign” to disrupt the U.S. presidential race, Rohrabacher has said that Assange has evidence that would clear that country of any allegations of interference.
The California Republican said he saw this evidence firsthand during a mid-August meeting at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder has lived in asylum for about five years.
Rohrabacher has spoken of his efforts to get the President’s ear ever since, telling Fox News host Sean Hannity that he expected an in-person “rendezvous” and the Los Angeles Times that he has “spoken to senior people at the White House” about setting it up.
One of those people was White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who, according to the Wall Street Journal, received a telephone pitch from Rohrabacher about the potential pardon deal.
A Trump administration official told the Journal that Kelly did not deliver Rohrabacher’s message to Trump, instead telling the congressman that the idea “was best directed to the intelligence community.”
Rohrabacher spokesman Ken Grubbs did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for an update on the congressman’s plans to meet with Trump.