Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California called White House Chief of Staff John Kelly this week to negotiate a deal to help WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
The report claims that Rohrabacher, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats, would have submitted evidence that Russia was not the source of the thousands of hacked emails published by WikiLeaks during the contentious 2016 US presidential election.
According to the plan, Rohrabacher would have presented a computer drive or other data-storage device that would supposedly contain evidence that would end speculation Russia was the perpetrator of the hacks.
“He would get nothing, obviously, if what he gave us was not proof,” Rohrabacher said, in reference to Assange, The Journal reported.
A White House official confirmed that Rohrabacher talked to Kelly about his plan; however, Kelly reportedly turned him down and said that the plan “was best directed to the intelligence community.” President Donald Trump was unaware of the details of Rohrabacher’s plan, The Journal said.
Kelly, who was named White House chief of staff after Reince Priebus’ ouster, has become a sort of gate-keeper in the West Wing, stemming the flow of visitors and moderating the information that reaches Trump.
Assange is currently living out of an Ecuadorian embassy in London in order to dodge extradition to the US for leaking documents and was visited by Rohrabacher in August. Assange reportedly told him that “Russia was not behind” the Democratic National Committee’s leaked emails, contrary to the conclusion reached by various US intelligence agencies.
Rohrabacher has been viewed as “Putin’s favorite congressman” after making pro-Russian statements and holding meetings with Russian officials in Moscow. Prior to meeting with Assange in Ecuador, he was also accused of violating US sanctions against Russia.