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  • Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange has asked through his U.S. lawyers for a pardon from incoming president Donald Trump. (Photo: Getty)

    Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange has asked through his U.S. lawyers for a pardon from incoming president Donald Trump. (Photo: Getty)

    Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is wanted in the United States on espionage charges, has made a formal request for a pardon from incoming president Donald Trump. Is this the political payoff he was hoping for?

    The effort comes as the the nation’s top spy, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, went public with charges that Wikileaks disseminated private Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee emails hacked by an unnamed “nation-state.” (read Russia).

    Assange has been living in asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid being extradited to face a U.S. trial. He could face additional charges for his complicity in the theft of the private emails.

    The fugitive’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, revealed the overtures to Trump during a news conference on an unrelated matter–charges that Assange raped two women in Sweden.

    Assange has been on the lam for four years. He fled the United States in 2012, during an investigation of his role in the release of classified documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

    “During that time we have repeatedly called for the investigation to be closed on the grounds it violates the First Amendment, and places a chill on freedom of speech and reporting,” Robinson told reporters today (Nov. 16) in London.

    Robinson said she had also reached out to the Obama administration, “a few months ago” and apparently was rebuffed.

    “We will continue to do so with future U.S. administrations until the investigation is closed,” she said, calling the matter an “absurd politicized situation.”

    During the election campaign, WikiLeaks published thousands of emails from the private account of Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta. They were released in a steady steam throughout the election.

    Early on, U.S. intelligence agencies, mainly through unnamed sources, fingered Russia for stealing the emails, amounting to unprecedented interference in a U.S. presidential election by a foreign adversary.

    But that didn’t stop the Trump campaign from capitalizing on them.

    Trump and his surrogates cited them repeatedly on the campaign trail, effectively keeping Clinton on the defensive. Major media outlets also widely reported on them, despite the fact that they were stolen.

    Whether the Trump campaign was complicit in the theft remains to be seen. But Russia has confirmed that its operatives were in touch with top Trump campaign advisors throughout the election.

    Trump called Putin earlier this week and expressed hope relations would improve; The Russian promptly responded with its most extensive air strikes yet in Syria, mostly targeting rebels battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    With his victory, Trump appeared to have skated on his Russian connections, but Rogers’ statements are nothing short of extraordinary. The head of the nation’s super secret spy agency has rarely, if ever, made such public statements, outside of a congressional hearing.

    “There shouldn’t be any doubt in anybody’s mind,” he said. “This was not something that was done casually. This was not something that was done by chance.

    “This was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily. This was a conscious effort by a nation state to achieve a specific effect,” he added.

    Although his language was clearly veiled, there’s little doubt he was referring to a Russian effort to aid Trump’s election.

    Rogers, who is leading the nation’s effort to combat cyber warfare, made the comments at a Wall Street Journal sponsored CEO’s forum last week.

    Even more remarkable, his remarks were widely overlooked by major media outlets. Even The Journal did not call special attention to them. It merely published a video of his remarks along with several others.

    For his part, Assange insists he didn’t get the emails from Russian-linked sources and denies trying to influence the U.S. election.

    Yet four days before voters went to the polls, Assange popped up on a Russian television station known as a propaganda outlet for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    He cast dispersion on the U.S. election with off-the-wall claims that it would be rigged to prevent Trump from winning. Assange’s comments were directly on message with the same “rigged” allegations voiced by Trump and promoted by the Russian government.

    Russian chessmaster Gary Kasparov, a leading Putin critic, told CNN one of the dictator’s goals was to discredit the U.S. electoral process, partly to gloss over his own election fraud.

    The fallout on Capitol Hill is coming from both sides of the aisle. Sen. John McCain, said a change in U.S. policy toward Russia would amount to “complicity in Putin and Assad’s butchery of the Syrian people.”

    Sen. Lindsey Graham has also called for a congressional investigation into Russia and the election.

    just four days before the election, DNC officials told Mother Jones they had found evidence that DNC headquarters may have been bugged and had submitted a report to the FBI.

    The FBI is reportedly investigating Russia’s role as well, but under Director James Comey, the once vaunted law enforcement agency has been severely compromised by politics. Whether it’s capable of conducting a full and impartial investigation is questionable.

    In what became known as the “Watergate” scandal, President Nixon was ultimately forced to resign after he tried to cover up what was described as a “third-rate burglary” of DNC headquarters by his operatives during the 1972 election.

    Ironically, during the campaign, Trump claimed that Clinton’s use of a private email server was far more serious than Watergate.

    This time around the theft was far more than third rate. It distorted and influenced one of the most important elections in U.S. history.

    And, it could yet become Donald Trump’s Watergate.

    Check out Rogers’ remarks below. Let us know your thoughts and be sure to follow Money & Power on Twitter for the latest updates on this breaking news story.