Julian Assange Officially Asks Trump to Pardon Him for Helping Him Get Elected

As I have noted, there’s abundant evidence that Robert Mueller investigated pardon discussions between Julian Assange and Roger Stone; that investigation appeared to be ongoing at least as of October 2020. That should make any Trump pardon of Julian Assange at least as legally fraught as any of the others he has given or is expected to give, short of a self-pardon.

Predictably, Ken Vogel makes no mention of that in his story on two parallel efforts to obtain a pardon for Assange. Nor does Vogel note that the petition submitted by Assange’s US defense attorney, Barry Pollack, includes what would be that quid pro quo in the requested scope of the pardon.

Mr. Assange should be granted a pardon to cover the conduct at issue in the pending criminal case against him and any other conduct prior to the pardon grant that could be the basis for criminal charges against him in the United States.

If Trump gave Assange a pardon with this scope, the language would amount to a pardon for helping Trump get elected, a pardon under discussion within days of Trump’s 2016 victory if not even before it. This would amount to a more generous pardon than Trump gave his own rat-fucker, Roger Stone.

Along with a misrepresentation of what the current CFAA charge against Assange is and a claim that Assange, “has already been confined longer than any person ever charged or convicted under the Espionage Act in its more than 100-year history” (effectively counting time Assange chose to hide out in the Ecuadorian Embassy while still engaged in similar acts to those he’s being prosecuted for), Pollack presents a really hysterical subset of the files Assange leaked in 2016 and 2017:

In 2016, WikiLeaks published:

  • 19,252 e-mails and 8,034 attachments from the Democratic National Party leadership, which resulted in the resignation of five top officials who had taken actions during the primaries in favor of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.

In 2017,WikiLeaks:

  • exposed lax security in the CIA unit dedicated to malware development, a fact acknowledged by an internal CIA report into the publication, which was subsequently revealed by Senator Ron Wyden; and
  • published the “the Russia Spy files,” documents relating to Russia under Vladimir Putin, including releases about surveillance contractors in Russia.

Pollack leaves off, among other things, the Podesta files involved in the seeming quid pro quo (which I guess might otherwise make him party to the crime). And he includes the Russian files for the same reason WikiLeaks published the already published files — as propaganda to cover up his role as a cut-out for Russia. The Vault 7 release, of course, happened during the period when — Pollack claims — Assange was “confined” as if it had anything to do with Espionage charges.

The real focus of the Vogel story, however, is how — in the wake of Trump’s coup this week — a bunch of Australian buddies of Assange just signed a “pro bono” contract with a lobbyist to push for the pardon.

Mr. Davis, who is now a lawyer specializing in national security and whistle-blower cases, is on the board of Blueprint for Free Speech, an Australia-based nonprofit group that advocates for press freedoms and whistle-blower protections. The group, which was started by Suelette Dreyfus, a former journalist who is an old friend and collaborator with Mr. Assange, signed a pro bono contract on Saturday with the lobbyist Robert Stryk to seek a pardon for Mr. Assange.

During Mr. Trump’s presidency, Mr. Stryk, who is well connected in Trump administration circles, has developed a lucrative business representing foreign clients in precarious geopolitical situations.

He has worked for a jailed Saudi prince who had fallen out of favor with his country’s powerful de facto leader, as well as the administration of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, which the Trump administration considers illegitimate. Mr. Styrk also worked for Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s former president, who is accused of embezzling millions of dollars from a state oil company she once headed, as well as the government of the former Congolese president Joseph Kabila, which had faced American sanctions for human rights abuses and corruption.

Disclosure: my travel expenses were paid to speak at events in Australia in 2017 by Dreyfus’ organization.

Again, I’m perfectly happy with the decision that our prisons are too inhumane for Assange. Pollack is a superb lawyer and Assange is certainly entitled to a vigorous defense (the first real hint of which shows up in the petition). But this whole effort is yet more of a propaganda campaign hiding what Assange has become and the role Assange had in electing the guy who just attempted a coup to stay in power. That does not serve journalism, though it may give Trump enough cover to pay off his 2016 campaign dues to Russia.

22 replies
    • Keith McClary says:

      Unless Trump’s motivation is to piss off the Dems.

      Ya think he will pardon his entire Capitol mob?

      Or has a really big tantrum and decrees a general amnesty – empty the prisons like Saddam did before the invasion.

      • PeterS says:

        I don’t think so. Law and order is a big part of the Trumpist/Fox narrative against the left, though obviously not a very sincere part. Trump doesn’t care about these people and he isn’t brave enough to do anything, well, brave; especially something that could have long term messaging consequences.

        • dude says:

          Trump is vengeful and spiteful. He is reactive and impulsive. If he thinks he can spite his critics with a pardon for anybody, he will. His only difficulty (as I see it) is that he is not able to delegate the pardon paperwork to a competent staffer or lawyer anymore. If he gets sufficiently frustrated with that, he will just improvise (like he did with the hurricane map) by putting Sharpie to paper and composing it himself. Just to turn the knife a little, he might leave that piece of paper in the President’s desk drawer as a little gift for Joe Biden.

          • Chris.EL says:

            This tweet has nailed Trump *perfectly*!! He’s completely bonkers.
            72 hour hold?

            From Twitter:
            “Elizabeth Mika
            Sadism is a feature of malignant narcissism.

            Trump revels in violence and has openly incited it throughout his presidency.

            Watching others commit violence on his bidding gives him pleasure and satisfies his lust for power and revenge.”
            Quote Tweet
            “George Conway
            · 2h
            “As this was unfolding on television, Donald Trump was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was as you had rioters pushing against Capitol Police trying to get into the building.”

  1. John Langston says:

    Trump could care less what happens to Assange or whatever dirt he might have. In fact, Trump will get a kick out of screwing the guy since he’s had him on the string all these years.

  2. Zinsky says:

    Very interesting. I’m guessing most Americans would respond with a “Huh? Who is Julian Assange?” if Trump pardons him. Even associating him with Wikileaks will probably evoke a blank stare. So many Americans just aren’t well informed. Given that as a backdrop, how likely do people on this blog (who are extremely well-informed), think it is that Trump will pardon him? I think most people will shrug their shoulders and say “So what?”. How do progressives link Trump’s criminality to Assange and Wikileaks and the likelihood that Assange’s perfidy may have tipped a very tight election to Trump in 2016?

    • Rayne says:

      I’m guessing most Americans would respond with a “Huh? Who is Julian Assange?”

      Whether the average American knows who Assange is or his role in assuring Trump’s illegitimate election in 2016 is irrelevant. You don’t know every criminal prosecuted in your state, do you? You don’t know every criminal the feds prosecuted, do you? Recognition and popularity have nothing to do with legitimate execution of this nation’s laws.

      How do progressives link Trump’s criminality to Assange and Wikileaks and the likelihood that Assange’s perfidy may have tipped a very tight election to Trump in 2016?

      Clearly you haven’t been paying attention. It’s not up to us to spoon feed you this when it’s been written about ad nauseum.

      • william underland says:

        Instead of a smart ass response showing off your superiority why not just take time to respond to an honest inquiry? I have the same question and have just turned to “Wheel” for the first time.

        • Rayne says:

          Bring better game to play in this pool. We do not spoon feed people here, especially when many drive-bys appearing out of nowhere are really just trolls intent on derailing discussion.

          You want to know more about the perspectives here at this site about a specific topic? Use the Search feature at the top right of the home page.

          Welcome to emptywheel.

        • bmaz says:

          Hi there “William Underland”, you are most definitely in the wrong place for that kind of comment. We have nearly a decade of Assange coverage, and do not owe an essay to every rando` that sashays in.

  3. drouse says:

    Didn’t the judge overseeing this mess make it it clear that Assange could be charged under British law? In that case he would be just changing an American prison for a British one. He might not be facing life plus cancer there but still.

  4. OldTulsaDude says:

    Without prosecution of Trump, his criminality only serves to encourage greater corruption and crime. Accountability is also a messenger.

  5. william underland says:

    “But this whole effort is yet more of a propaganda campaign hiding what Assange has become and the role Assange had in electing the guy who just attempted a coup to stay in power”
    Could someone give me some links that elaborate this point of view? I’m new to the site as well as Assange’s role in electing Trump. Would like to learn more about it.

    • Rayne says:

      One. More. Time: Use the Search feature at the top right of the home page. Try a search term like “Julian Assange.”

      EDIT: If you can’t find the Search feature it’s the little magnifying glass icon. Click it, enter search term in the drop down box.

    • bmaz says:

      I am willing to help you. But already think you are an annoying jerk, and my minimum hourly billing rate is $400/hr and I don’t think you qualify for the minimum rate. Get lost.

      • Norskeflamthrower says:

        That would be $400 I would gladly contribute to if I could also read the response it pays for.

  6. may says:

    as a blow in commenter,just a quick thanks for the bulldust removal activities.

    boyohboy oh boy.

    recently ,i have peeled off the concern for “if-only-they-could-see”.
    it’s been too blatant for too long.

    give them nothing.

    lest we forget.

Comments are closed.