Trump and a few involved in his original campaign awoke this morning to news that might induce a bit of a headache over the “Russia, Russia, Russia,” non-hoax. Subject to one last appeal, Julian Assange is returning to the United States to face espionage charges.
From the Wall Street Journal:
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can now be extradited from the U.K. to the U.S. to face espionage charges after British Home Secretary Priti Patel approved the order.
The decision, which Mr. Assange has said he would appeal, is the latest step in a long-running legal saga.
A London court authorized Mr. Assange’s extradition in April, overturning an earlier decision that had barred it on the grounds that he would be a suicide risk if held in harsh conditions in a U.S. jail while awaiting trial.
Assuming that Assange loses his final appeal and appears in the United States, he will almost surely be open to making a deal with a neutral Department of Justice. He faces serious espionage charges.
There has been speculation (based upon evidence known by the public) that only two people in the Western world could directly link the Trump campaign and Donald Trump himself with the Russian government regarding the leaked documents, Roger Stone is one. Stone faced prison for lying to the FBI and obstruction of justice in the Russian investigation until Trump commuted Stone’s sentence. Assange is the other, who – it is said – may have operated as the middle man between Stone or other Trump representatives and Russia.
Trump notoriously handed out pardons to those who remained “loyal,” and yet he merely commuted Stone’s sentence. Legal observers have long wondered whether Trump commuted Stone’s sentence (rather than pardoning him) in order to preserve Stone’s Fifth Amendment Rights. A pardon acts as a waiver of one’s ability to plead the Fifth over the original crime. One must answer questions or face new charges. A commutation does not waive those rights. As said above, many have long theorized that Roger Stone was the “go-between” linking the Trump campaign and Assange, who obtained the information gathered by the Russian government.
The last thing Trump and his close campaign advisors want is Assange in the United States facing espionage charges pressed by a neutral DOJ. Assange may have evidence to offer to shave off a significant period of incarceration. Even without a link to Stone, Trump doesn’t want Assange talking about his work with Russia to distribute harmful material gathered by the Russians.
The threat is a distant one compared to Trump’s more immediate concerns. But Assange remains a threat, near or far.