- The Washington Times - Friday, September 1, 2017

Senators investigating Russia’s role in President Trump’s election are reportedly pondering whether to interview a member of the House about his recent meeting with WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is considering questioning Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, about his three-hour meeting last month with Mr. Assange, CNN reported Thursday citing two congressional sources.

The intel panel is one of several currently probing Russia’s involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential race and is investigating an alleged state-run hacking operation waged by Moscow against Mr. Trump’s campaign rival, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, among other matters.

Russian hackers infiltrated Democratic targets associated with Mrs. Clinton and obtained sensitive emails ultimately provided to WikiLeaks for publication, according to the U.S. intelligence community. Mr. Assange has insisted otherwise, however, and told Mr. Rohrabacher at their meeting last month that Russian actors weren’t responsible.

“I’m trying to get this out in the public now where we can get this Julian Assange thing straightened out so that people know that it wasn’t the Russians that hacked into the system, and that’s not how this information was released,” Mr. Rohrabacher said on Sean Hannity’s syndicated radio program this week.

“It is my understanding from other parties who are trying to arrange a rendezvous with myself and the President, it is being arranged for me to give him the firsthand information from (Assange),” Mr. Rohrabacher said.

In a statement Thursday, Mr. Rohrabacher’s spokesman said the congressman will speak with Senate investigators as long as Mr. Trump comes first.

“He hasn’t been contacted by the committee, but is happy to talk with them after he talks with President Trump,” his spokesman said.

The meeting between Mr. Rohrabacher and the WikiLeaks chief was the first ever to take place between a sitting congressman and Mr. Assange since he took refuge inside Ecuador’s embassy in London in June 2012. Mr. Assange was granted asylum from Ecuador that summer, but has remained inside ever since because British authorities have been instructed to arrest him on sight.

The Department of Justice began investigating WikiLeaks and Mr. Assange in 2010 after the website began publishing classified U.S. intelligence, and Mr. Assange has said he fears he’ll be extradited stateside and criminally tried if he leaves his current residence without being guaranteed safe passage to Ecuador. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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