Julian Assange told a U.S. congressman on Tuesday he has evidence that the leaked Democratic Party documents he published during last year’s election did not come from Russia and promised additional helpful information about the leaks in the near future, the Hill reports.
Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican who has Russian-friendly views and chairs an important House subcommittee on Eurasia policy, was the first U.S. congressman to meet with Assange during a three-hour private gathering at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder has been holed up for years. Rohrabacher has described his meeting with Assange to The Hill.
“Our three-hour meeting covered a wide array of issues, including the WikiLeaks exposure of the DNC emails during last year’s presidential election,” Rohrabacher stated, “Julian emphatically stated that the Russians were not involved in the hacking or disclosure of those emails.
After he was pressed into giving more detail about the source of the documents, Rohrabacher said he had information, but that they need to be shared privately with President Donald Trump.
“Julian also indicated that he is open to further discussions regarding specific information about the DNC email incident that is currently unknown to the public,” the Congressman added.
U.S. intelligence has insisted it has solid evidence, which was not previously published, that Russia was behind last year’s election leaks that embarrassed the Democrats, including some unfavorable revelations about the nominee Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman John Podesta.
Assange has mentioned in the past that Russia wasn’t the source of his leaked information. Tuesday marked the first time he meets with a U.S. lawmaker. He has been living at the Ecuador’s embassy in London since 2012 after he was granted diplomatic asylum. He emerged after publishing thousands of sensitive U.S. diplomatic and military documents that included leaks related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Wikileaks is a controversial figure; a hero to supporters who argue his leaks unveiled some critical information about the evils of the U.S. military and foreign policy, and a villain to critics, including many GOP lawmakers, who argue the leaks jeopardized national security. Rohrabacher’s meeting with Assange, as a result, is described as controversial by many of his collagues.
Rohrabacher said that he had some information that he was going to disclose personally to Trump when he returned to the United States, including a request that the WikiLeaks organization be given a news media seat inside the White House press room.
“Julian passionately argued the case that WikiLeaks was vital to informing the public about controversial though necessary issues. He hoped that Wikileaks — an award winning journalistic operation — might be granted a seat in the White House press corps. As a former newsman myself I can’t see a reason why they shouldn’t be granted news status for official press conferences,” Rohrabacher said.
As for other information to be given to the president, Rohrabacher said: “We left with the understanding that we would be going into further details in the near future. The rest of the message is for the president directly and I hope to convey it to him as more details come in.”
Rohrabacher said the meeting with Assange, was also attended by his lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, and a the businessman Charles Johnson in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
“Unbeknownst to me I am the first member of Congress to visit there with Mr. Assange,” he said. The lawmaker also said Assange appeared in good health, allaying concerns his time in asylum at the embassy had taken a toll.
“Contrary to what the fake news media has alleged Julian seemed in good health and committed to his principles,” he said. Trump has praised Assange before, and in a Fox News interview this year with the Wikileaks founder he doubted Russia’s involvement in the DNC leak.