- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A congressman who met face-to-face with WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange after the latter’s website received and released thousands of Democratic Party emails allegedly sourced by state-sponsored hackers said he’ll discuss the meeting with members of the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, will appear before the House panel later this month to answer questions concerning his August 2017 meeting in London with Mr. Assange, the lawmaker told The Los Angeles Times.

“As you can see, I am not worried,” Mr. Rohrabacher said Monday. “I have no worries at all. Once the public understands that the regular media has given them a false impression of my meetings with Russians, it’ll be fine,” he told The Times.

WikiLeaks published emails throughout the 2016 election cycle belonging to both the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, the chairman of the party’s nominee for president, Hillary Clinton.

The U.S. intelligence community has determined that the emails were initially obtained by hackers working on behalf of the Russian government, but Mr. Rohrabacher – the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats – left an Aug. 16 meeting with Mr. Assange convinced otherwise.

“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 following his hourslong meeting with the WikiLeaks chief – the first encounter between a sitting member of Congress and Mr. Assange since the latter took refuge inside London’s Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012.

Mr. Assange did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The Senate Intelligence Committee previously expressed interest in interviewing Mr. Rohrabacher about his meeting with Mr. Assange, according to earlier reports, but the lawmaker said he’d only discuss the encounter after running it by President Trump.

He’s said that the White House has been hesitant to hear about the meeting, however, and that they “don’t want to give the special prosecutor any excuse to claim that they were covering something up or obstructing justice,” referring to Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed by the Department of Justice to investigate Russia’s potential influence in the 2016 race.

At least five federal bodies are currently investigating the 2016 election, including the special counsel’s office, the two intel panels, the House oversight committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism.

Russia has denied meddling in Mr. Trump’s election, and Mr. Assange has insisted that the Russian government’s wasn’t the source of emails published by WikiLeaks.

Mr. Rohrabacher has been accused of keeping a suspiciously close relationship with Russia as a congressman, and The New York Times reported last month that Moscow considered him to be “an intelligence source worthy of a Kremlin code name.”


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