In response to the report that he had offered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a pardon from President Donald Trump in return for denying Russia’s involvement in the hack of DNC emails, former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) put out a statement.
“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,” read Rohrabacher’s statement. “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.”
But as former U.S. Attorney Renato Mariotti noted on Twitter, this statement actually does not deny one the core allegation of the report:
Rohrabacher does not deny that he told Assange that he would obtain a pardon if he denied Russian involvement in the hacking of Hillary Clinton’s emails. https://t.co/FKmkRftt0l
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) February 19, 2020
Indeed, all Rohrabacher is really denying here is that Trump was in on the scheme to trade a pardon for a cover-up of Russian involvement — he is not denying that the scheme took place at all.
For the record, Rohrabacher’s denials that Trump was involved appear doubtful, given that in 2017 he openly suggested he was involved in a “confidential interaction” with the White House regarding Assange. But even if Trump indeed wasn’t behind the offer, what Rohrabacher is admitting is incredibly damning for his own actions.