WASHINGTON, Sept 16 — A pro-Russia congressman offered to tell the White House who provided WikiLeaks with hacked Clinton campaign emails in exchange for the US dropping its probe into the group's leader Julian Assange, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.
Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher offered a "deal" in which Assange would furnish electronic evidence that would exculpate Russia as the source of the emails published last year by the anti-secrecy organisation that did significant damage to Democrat Hillary Clinton's presidential run.
In exchange, the Journal said, Rohrabacher was seeking for Assange "a pardon or other act of clemency from President Donald Trump," it said.
The US Justice Department has acknowledged investigating Assange and WikiLeaks for the release of a series of top secret US documents and computer hacking tools as well as the Clinton emails.
No charges have been unveiled. But Washington is widely believed to have asked London to arrest and extradite the Australian if he steps out of his refuge in Ecuador's embassy in London, where he has lived for five years.
US intelligence officials have blamed Russia for the theft of Clinton campaign communications and documents last year as part of a deliberate effort to hurt her chances as president. They allege that WikiLeaks, in publishing the documents, knowingly acted in concert with Russian intelligence, and have branded it a "hostile intelligence service."
WikiLeaks has denied that the source of the material was the Russian government, but stresses it will never divulge the sources of the information in gets.
The Journal said Rohrabacher confirmed that he spoke to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly this week but would not say what was discussed.
Rohrabacher visited Assange in London in August and afterwards said he was seeking a meeting with President Donald Trump to discuss his case.
Rohrabacher told conservative commentator Sean Hannity's radio show that the assertion that Russia hacked the US election last year was a "con job" to undermine the Trump administration. — AFP