Vice President Mike Pence has backed efforts by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) to secure a presidential pardon for dissident Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, according to a report by Chuck Johnson of GotNews.
Pence also allegedly confirmed that President Donald Trump had seen one of Rohrabacher’s televised appearances, where the California Congressman discussed his communication with Assange, and was sympathetic to the effort. In late September, the President claimed he had “never heard [the prospect of a deal with Assange] mentioned”.
The remarks by Pence were made during a fundraiser for Rohrabacher in the wealthy Los Angeles suburb of Newport Beach, which is within the Congressman’s district. Clinton outperformed Trump in this seat during last year’s presidential election, and therefore it is one of the Democrats’ top targets for the 2018 mid-term elections.
In July, Rohrabacher and Johnson travelled to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where Assange is claiming asylum. After meeting with Assange for several hours, Rohrabacher claimed he was in possession of information that could vindicate Assange from allegations that he collaborated with the Russian government in the hacking of Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers last year. Assange is currently wanted by the United States government for acts of sedition. However, Rohrabbacher’s attempts to secure a private meeting with the President to discuss this information have been unsuccessful in the wake of strident opposition by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who believes this is a matter for the intelligence agencies, not the President.
If true, this is a somewhat surprising outcome, given that Pence is generally seen to hold conventional Republican views on national security issues. In addition, Assange has also accused Pence of conspiring against the President, which Pence described as “absurd and frankly offensive”. However, the fact that the both he and Trump are aware of and sympathetic to Rohrabacher’s attempts to find a solution to Assange’s situation does suggest that there is still hope of a deal that vindicates Assange.