This file photo taken on Feb. 05, 2016 shows WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange coming out on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy to address the media in central London.
Photo by Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty

‘Putin’s favorite congressman’ sought deal for WikiLeaks founder

As a rule, it’s best not to get too worked up about random quips from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.). The California Republican, for example, recently argued that last month’s violence in Charlottesville was staged by liberals and was “a total hoax.”

But while foolish palaver like this is easy to dismiss, some of Rohrabacher’s antics are harder to overlook. The Wall Street Journal reported the other day, for example, that the GOP lawmaker reached out to the White House last week about brokering a deal in which Donald Trump would help WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and in exchange, Assange would provide evidence exonerating Russia in the scandal surrounding the attack on American elections.

The proposal made by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R., Calif.), in a phone call Wednesday with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, was apparently aimed at resolving the probe of WikiLeaks prompted by Mr. Assange’s publication of secret U.S. government documents in 2010 through a pardon or other act of clemency from President Donald Trump.

The possible “deal” – a term used by Mr. Rohrabacher during the Wednesday phone call – would involve a pardon of Mr. Assange or “something like that,” Mr. Rohrabacher said. In exchange, Mr. Assange would probably present a computer drive or other data-storage device that Mr. Rohrabacher said would exonerate Russia in the long-running controversy about who was the source of hacked and stolen material aimed at embarrassing the Democratic Party during the 2016 election.

So let me get this straight. A pro-Putin congressman wants to help an operative who’s alleged to have helped Putin’s election attack, all as part of an agreement that the congressman believes would exonerate Putin’s government.

For context, let’s not forget that Dana Rohrabacher has been described as “Putin’s favorite congressman,” and in a closed-door event last year, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told GOP lawmakers, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” (The GOP leadership later said McCarthy was kidding. I wonder why Republicans would considered this funny.)

After the Wall Street Journal article was published, Rohrabacher complained to the Washington Examiner about his outreach to the White House leaking.

“I don’t know who it is, all I know is I’m up against an array of very powerful forces, including the intelligence services and major newspapers that are basically allied with the liberal Left who have every reason to undermine communication on this issue,” the Republican congressman said, He added,

“Look, there are very powerful forces at work,” he added. “We’ve got the NSA, the FBI and the CIA, all of whom confirmed a major lie that was being used for political purposes and a lie that was repeated and repeated in order to undercut our new president.”

The irony of Rohrabacher whining about a leak was apparently lost on him.