- Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters
WASHINGTON – California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican known for his fondness of the Russian government and ties to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, said he is unable to even speak to President Donald Trump due to barriers put in place by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.
Rohrabacher told Business Insider on Tuesday that Kelly and “a coalition of people in the White House” are preventing him from having a conversation with Trump that would entail clearing Assange and the Russian government from allegations they meddled in the 2016 presidential election.
Several government agencies expressed “high confidence” that Russian government agents directly attempted to interfere in the 2016 election, according to a January report from the Director of National Intelligence.
But Rohrabacher is unconvinced. Last month during a phone call with Kelly, Rohrabacher requested a pardon of Assange in exchange for evidence that would clear the fugitive’s name.
Weeks later, he is still unable to speak directly with Trump, but said that “there are others involved who are talking to Trump” about Assange.
Rohrabacher added that he is imploring a similar strategy in talking to Assange, who currently lives in asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
“I have not spoken to [Assange] directly, but we’re going through a period of time where a lot’s getting done one person removed in a lot of different ways,” he said.
According to Rohrabacher, the end arounds are necessary because Trump’s top advisors are preventing him from reaching the president.
“The White House staff and other top people in the administration are trying to protect the president from himself,” Rohrabacher said. “That’s what they think and in fact they are usurping his authority to make decisions – the important decisions – himself.”
On Tuesday, it was also revealed that Rohrabacher met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya during a trip to Moscow last year, according to Foreign Policy. Veselnitskaya is known for her meeting with Donald Trump, Jr. at Trump Tower in New York, where she supposedly discussed potentially damaging information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.