Politics

Rohrabacher to Testify About Assange Meeting Before House Select Intelligence

California Republican maintains Russians were not responsible for 2016 DNC email hack

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., arrives for the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on "An Insider’s Look at the North Korean Regime" on Nov. 1. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher will testify before the House Select Intelligence Committee later this month about his August meeting with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in which the two discussed who stole Democratic National Committee emails leading up to the 2016 elections.

The Russian government directed the email heist, U.S. intelligence officials have alleged. Rohrabacher has urged since his meeting with Assange that these allegations are not true. The California Republican has been criticized sharply for his perceived defense of the Russian government, and he sees his impending testimony as a chance to prove his intentions are pure.

“As you can see, I am not worried,” Rohrabacher told the Los Angeles Times 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.”

Rohrabacher met with Assange in August at the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has lived since seeking asylum there in 2012.

Watch: What’s Congress’ Role in the Russia Investigation? One Senator Explains

Rohrabacher said in August the details of the meeting would have “an earth-shattering political impact” because they proved the Russian government had no role in providing WikiLeaks with the DNC emails.

But Rohrabacher has declined to share those details without first securing a promise from President Donald Trump to pardon Assange.

Assange has repeatedly claimed Russian agents were not the source of the DNC emails that rankled Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and partly prompted House, Senate, and special counsel investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Some White House officials have isolated the president from Rohrabacher out of concern over the president’s image with regard to the special investigation.

“They don’t want to give the special prosecutor any excuse to claim that they were covering something up or obstructing justice,” Rohrabacher said.

The southern California congressman has been called “Putin’s favorite congressman” in the media for his defenses of the Russian leader and his government.

He said Monday it is his job as chairman of the House subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and emerging threats to have honest discussions with leaders from Russia and other areas within the subcommittee’s scope, something the media seldom mentions in stories about him.

“Frankly it’s having a negative impact on the media's credibility, but not mine, and the minute I talk to these people and the various committees, I’m sure everything will be fine,” he said.

Rohrabacher is considered one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the House, and Democrats are making a play for his 48th District seat, which Hillary Clinton carried by two points last fall, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched a website in August, “The Rohrabacher Conspiracy,” that shows a bulletin board linking Rohrabacher to various Russian operatives and other figures.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates Rohrabacher’s race Tilt Republican.

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