Although confined to London’s Ecuadorian Embassy, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange buzzes through global networks. From criticizing the Spanish government during the Catalan Referendum to upending the 2016 U.S. presidential election through Wikileaks, Assange has staked out a nihilistic role for himself amid the new interconnected world order.
To some, he’s a Kremlin pawn. To others, he’s a defender of Western values and transparency. To two D.C. politicians, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, he may be a useful bargaining chip with the President of the United States.
During an interview with The Daily Caller, Rohrabacher confirmed that he’d met with Paul to discuss an alleged offer from Assange to name the source who leaked the DNC emails during the 2016 election. Paul reportedly planned to pass along the information to the President.
“Rand Paul says the president calls him every now and then,” Rohrabacher told the publication. “I wanted to make sure that when [Trump] calls him that [Paul] knew enough about the Julian Assange offer that I found something of value for the president to look at.”
He added that Paul was “very open to the idea of mentioning it to the president next time the president called him.”
After the exclusive was published, Assange criticized The Daily Caller for practicing “disgraceful reporting.” He tweeted that “offers have been made” to him and “not the other way around.”
The congressman enjoys a close relationship with Assange. In August, the two met for three hours at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London (where the Wikileaks founder has taken asylum since 2012 due to since-dropped sexual assault charges in Sweden). Rohrabacher was the first representative to be granted an audience with Assange, praising Wikileaks upon returning to the United States.
“Julian passionately argued the case that WikiLeaks was vital to informing the public about controversial though necessary issues. He hoped that WikiLeaks — an award-winning journalistic operation — might be granted a seat in the White House press corps. As a former newsman myself I can’t see a reason why they shouldn’t be granted news status for official press conferences.”
“We’ll take the word of the U.S. intelligence community over Julian Assange and Putin’s favorite Congressman,” said DNC deputy communications director Adrienne Watson in a statement.
Currently, the congressman is trying to broker a deal with the White House where the U.S. would preemptively pardon or agree not to prosecute Assange. However, it may prove difficult if Assange remains publicly hostile towards the other players involved.
“Assange has not disputed any of the many previous stories about this,” said Rohrabacher’s spokesman Ken Grubbs. “We don’t know why he would dispute this one. We don’t know what his motives are now.”
As global networks batter democracy, the high-wire act of an Australian computer programmer lambasting Western institutions, reportedly aided by the Kremlin, encouraged by a Republican congressman from California, pinned down from London’s Ecuadorian embassy, will only continue to get more convoluted.