Donald Trump allegedly offered to pardon Julian Assange if he claimed that Russia had nothing to do with a leak of Democratic party emails, according to arguments made as the Wikileaks founder prepares to block his extradition to the US.
The request to Mr Assange reportedly came from a former California Republican congressman and Trump ally, now thrust into the scandal at the heart of a federal investigation into foreign interference in US elections, lawyers for Mr Assange argue.
Former congressman Dana Rohrabacher did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Download the new Independent Premium app
Sharing the full story, not just the headlines
The leaked emails published by Wikileaks proved to be a campaign obstacle for Democrats and candidate Hillary Clinton.
Mr Assange faces decades in prison if found guilty on more than a dozen charges involving the release of classified documents obtained by former US Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning.
Mr Rohrabacher, once considered on the shortlist for the cabinet at Trump's White House, was often criticised for his apparent close relationship with Russia and its president Vladimir Putin.
On a 2016 audio capure of an exchange between then-House Majority Leader Kevin McCarty and other Republicans, Mr McCarthy can be heard joking that Mr Rohrabacher and Mr Trump are on Russia's payroll.
In 2017, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs restricted Mr Rohrabacher's use of foreign travel expenditures over concerns of his interests in Russia.
He called for the resignation of then-US Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2018 for his refusal to boot Robert Mueller from the investigation into Russian interference in 2016 elections, saying Mr Sessions was being "disloyal to the president and to the country".