|WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange on Dec. 5, 2011 (Credit: AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth)|
Hannity sat down with Assange in London's Ecuadorian embassy, where the Australian native has been holed up for five years battling extradition to Sweden on unrelated charges. Part I of the interview is set to air Tuesday night at 10 p.m. on Fox News Channel's "Hannity."
In excerpts released prior to airing, Assange is adamant that the hacked emails his organization released of Clinton official John Podesta did not come from Russia, as the Obama administration has claimed.
“We can say, we have said, repeatedly that over the last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party,” Assange said.
More than 50,000 emails were released during the 2016 presidential campaign, exposing dubious practices at the Clinton Foundation, top journalists working closely with the Clinton campaign, key Clinton aides speaking derisively of Catholics and a top Democratic National Committee official providing debate questions to Clinton in advance.
Hannity told Fox News' Bill Hemmer "I believe everything (Assange) said," and praised the Internet activist for his commitment to government transparency.
Despite the Obama administration’s claims that Russia was behind cyber-intrusions meant to interfere with the U.S. election – and punitive measures taken against Moscow last week – Assange said nobody associated with the Russian government gave his group the files.
Assange also noted that in recent statements from top administration offices including the FBI and White House, “the word WikiLeaks” was missing, even as the administration expelled Russian diplomats in retaliation for cyberattacks.
“It’s very strange,” he said.
Some Republican critics have questioned what evidence the administration has to back up its Russia allegations, while others have applauded President Obama for moving to penalize Russia – albeit months after the initial hacks.
Asked if he thought Obama was lying to the American people about Russia’s actions, Assange said the president is “acting like a lawyer” with his allegations.
“If you look at most of his statements, he doesn’t say that. He doesn’t say that WikiLeaks obtained its information from Russia, worked with Russia,” Assange said.
But he said he believes the administration is “trying to delegitimize the Trump administration as it goes into the White House. They are trying to say that President-elect Trump is not a legitimate president.”
Since Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in November, Clinton’s allies have stepped up claims that the WikiLeaks email releases significantly damaged her candidacy – particularly the leak of thousands of emails from Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s account. An earlier release of DNC emails over the summer led to the resignation of Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Asked if the emails changed the outcome of the election, Assange said:
“Who knows, it’s impossible to tell. But if it did, the accusation is that the true statements of Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager, John Podesta, and the DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz, their true statements is what changed the election.”
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says he is 1,000% certain hacked emails didn’t come from Russia
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Fox News that hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman did not come from a Russian source.
Fox News host Sean Hannity asked Assange if he could “tell the American people 1,000%” that WikiLeaks did not get the hacked material from Russia.
“Yes. We can say, we have said, repeatedly that over the last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party,” Assange said.
Assange’s reliability on this matter, however, is questionable. Former United Nations ambassador John Bolton, for instance, told Fox News on Tuesday that he wouldn’t trust Assange.
Assange also accused the Obama administration of trying to undermine the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump.
“They’re trying to delegitimize the Trump administration as it goes into the White House,” Assange said of the Obama administration’s response to the leaking of hacked emails. “They are trying to say that President-elect Trump is not a legitimate President.”
The Obama administration has strongly condemned the hacks and increased sanctions on Russia.
US intelligence agencies have blamed Russia for leaking emails from DNC officials and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta in the weeks and months leading up to the election. US officials have said Russia was attempting to sway the election in Trump’s favor.
“Did it (WikiLeaks) change the outcome of the election? Who knows, it’s impossible to tell,” Assange told Fox. “But if it did, the accusation is that the true statements of Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager, John Podesta, and the DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz, their true statements is what changed the election.”
Emails showed DNC officials seeming to favor Clinton over her Democratic primary challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders. The Podesta emails contained excerpts of Clinton’s controversial speeches to financial firm Goldman Sachs and also showed campaign officials speaking candidly about the election.
Trump has refused to pin blame on Russia for the hacks, and last week he said he has information others don’t on who is responsible.
“I also know things that other people don’t know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation,” he told reporters.
Asked what he knew that others do not, Trump replied: “You’ll find out Tuesday or Wednesday.”
It’s unclear what exactly Trump was referring to, but it’s possible that it’s the interview with Assange.
Julian Assange denies Russian hacking allegations, claims President Obama is trying to “delegitimize” Donald Trump
Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who has been accused of targeting Hillary Clinton in order to help Donald Trump due to his connections with the regime of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, has conducted an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity that will only further reinforce those suspicions.
When Hannity asked Assange if he could “tell the American people 1000%” that WikiLeaks did not get the hacked Democratic National Committee emails from Russia, he offered a hedged reply.
“Yes. We can say, we have said, repeatedly that over the last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party,” Assange said. While this reply rules out institutions, it does not acknowledge the possibility that the material was received by an agent working for or with Russian state institutions.
Assange also echoed the line being repeated by both Putin and President-elect Donald Trump — namely, that President Obama and the intelligence community are agreeing that Russia was involved in a conspiracy to hurt the incoming president.
“They’re trying to delegitimize the Trump administration as it goes into the White House,” Assange said. “They are trying to say that President-elect Trump is not a legitimate president.”
This isn’t the first recent interview in which Assange has raised eyebrows with his defense of and/or praise for Trump and Putin. In December Assange told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that Trump’s election opened up opportunities for “change for the worse and change for the better” because he is “not a D.C. insider” and praised Russia for its “many vibrant publications, online blogs, and Kremlin critics.”
“So my interpretation is that in Russia there are competitors to WikiLeaks, and no WikiLeaks staff speak Russian, so for a strong culture which has its own language, you have to be seen as a local player,” Assange said.
In April, when the Panama Papers exposed that widespread corruption among Russia’s political and business elites, Assange went to Twitter to denounce them — even though, as the operator of a website devoted to leaking sensitive information from corrupt governments, that opposition was highly hypocritical (a term this reporter is happy to defend as an objective statement).
“#PanamaPapers Putin attack was produced by OCCRP which targets Russia & former USSR and was funded by USAID and [George] Soros,” read one tweet.
“US govt funded #PanamaPapers attack story on Putin via USAID. Some good journalists but no model for integrity,” read another tweet.
Incidentally, WikiLeaks could provide no proof that the U.S. government had been in any way involved in the Panama Papers being leaked. Also interestingly, Putin began using the same argument as Assange to delegitimize the Panama Papers shortly after the WikiLeaks tweets.
Assange’s other connections to the Russian government include a half-hour political TV show called “The Julian Assange Show” that he aired on Russia Today, Russia’s state-owned and pro-Putin television network; by his own admission encouraging NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to seek asylum in Russia instead of Latin America; and suggesting the use of Russians for his Security Service during his political asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has resided since 2010.
“I understood his position: he’s in a state of war with the American government,” said Pussy Riot member Nadya Tolokno, telling The Daily Beast about two-year-old conversation she had with Assange. “He’s smart and charismatic and will use any means to destroy the American government. And we had a conversation if it was really the ethical thing to do that with the hands of another government [Russia] which is, in fact, much worse and a real authoritarian government. Julian Assange is a really good diplomat, so he can basically just dodge direct answers from my questions on that, and gives other answers — as Putin usually does when people ask him directly about some uncomfortable things.”
Tolokno later added that Assange “couldn’t deny” that he was working with the Russian government, pointing out that “Julian Assange, he openly works with [Russia]. It’s not a secret. He’s connected with the Russian government, and I feel that he’s proud of it. And with Julian Assange, I really like a lot of the things that he’s done, too.”