Breaking his own organization's longstanding policy not to comment on where its information comes from, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told a national radio show that some of the 2016 leaks about Democrats may have come from Russia, but WikiLeaks' sources were not Russian.
Assange acknowledged that the hacker who calls himself Guccifer 2.0 may have been working on behalf of the Russians when he sent documents to The Hill and other media outlets, but those were not the same emails sent to WikiLeaks, which later published them in batches during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The free information activist, who has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid an international arrest warrant, told Sean Hannity that the emails did not all come from the same source -- and he insisted that they did not come from the Russian government itself.
Assange also disputed the suggestion that the documents were edited or forged, The Hill reported. During the last few weeks of the campaign, as new batches of emails resulted in increasingly embarrassing revelations for Democrats, Hillary Clinton's campaign said it would not discuss the emails, suggesting they weren't authentic.
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"Our publications had wide uptake by the American people, they're all true," Assange said. "But that's not the allegation that’s being presented by the Obama White House. So, why such a dramatic response? Well, the reason is obvious. They’re trying to delegitimize the Trump administration as it goes into the White House."
Not all of the emails were beneficial to Trump. Many of them revealed internal rifts among Democrats, particularly among those who supported Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for the presidency over Clinton. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was forced to resign from her post in the fallout, and her interim replacement, Donna Brazile, had to resign from her contributor gig at CNN after leaked emails revealed she sent debate questions to the Clinton team ahead of time. Those questions were for primary debates against Sanders, not the general election debates against Trump.
Since the election, Obama has retaliated against Russia by forcing 35 diplomats -- or suspected intelligence operatives, according to the United States -- from the country while also closing down two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland, the New York Times reported.
The Obama administration said the 35 expelled Russians were involved in intelligence-gathering, but did not answer questions about whether they were involved in hacking the email accounts of several DNC officials and Clinton campaign staffers.
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“All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions,” Obama said, accusing the Kremlin of ignoring “repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior.”
The Russians, meanwhile, responded by saying they won't make further efforts to dialog with the Obama administration, and released a statement saying they look forward to Trump's Jan. 20 inauguration, since the businessman-turned-politician has said he seeks warmer relations with Moscow.
To underline the point, the Russian embassy in London responded to increasingly pitched rhetoric from the U.S. government with a Dec. 29 tweet. It featured a photograph of a duck, with the word "LAME" written across it in capital letters.