A lawyer for Julian Assange spoke in court on Wednesday, claiming a former Republican congressman offered the WikiLeaks founder a presidential pardon. This clemency was to be in exchange for denying Russian involvement in the 2016 Democratic National Committee email hack. 

Assange’s lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald, declared in the Westminster Magistrates' Court on Feb. 19 that former congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California's 48th district had spoken to his client on behalf of the U.S. President. The congressman offered to arrange a presidential pardon from Trump if he would “play ball” by publicly stating the Russians were not involved in the DNC hack. Rohrabacher has admitted to visiting and speaking with Assange at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. 

The WikiLeaks founder had been granted asylum and citizenship with Ecuador, but both were withdrawn on April 11th, 2019. He was subsequently arrested by British authorities and is awaiting an extradition hearing to be tried in the United States. 

Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

Assange has previously stated he believed Russia was not involved in the now infamous hack. Upstanding members of the U.S. Intelligence Community all agree the former Soviet nation was directly responsible. 

Both The White House and Rohrabacher have denied any involvement in Fitzgerald’s claims. Trump did not write one of his infamous Tweets on the matter, but Wikileaks released the following after the hearing: 

"Chronology matters: The meeting and the offer were made ten months after Julian Assange had already independently stated Russia was not the source of the DNC publication. The witness statement is one of the many bombshells from the defense to come."

Assange has long been a proponent of using cryptocurrency to thwart government oversight. Appropriately, his legal fees are currently being supplemented by Bitcoin donations from k.im, created by entrepreneur Kim Dotcom.