Julian Assange has some ’splainin’ to do.
The head of WikiLeaks, still banished to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, has come under fire by U.S. intelligence officials—and even NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who criticized the organization’s “hostility to even modest curation”—for not just his troubling anti-Semitic streak or lingering rape accusation, but also that they are probably doing the work of Russia in releasing thousands upon thousands of Democratic National Committee emails, thereby tilting the U.S. presidential election towards former reality star Donald Trump, whose campaign has very deep ties to Vladimir Putin.
On Friday night, Assange beamed into HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher to discuss the #DNCLeak, which revealed emails between operatives expressing bias against newly minted Democrat Bernie Sanders. You see, even though Sanders is essentially a Democratic Party interloper—his own website sells him as “the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history,” and he’s run against Democrats in the past—the emails revealed an overarching feeling of favoritism towards his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
When Maher alleged to Assange that, while there was plenty of chatter in the emails pointing to the Democratic primary being tilted in Hillary’s favor, there was no “smoking gun,” the Aussie hacker pushed back.
“I know that it’s true,” said Assange. “[DNC] Communications Director Luis Miranda, who has resigned just three days ago, instructed his staff—an instruction, not a discussion, an instruction—to pump out, in ‘an unattributable matter,’ statements in an article saying that Bernie Sanders supporters were engaged in acts of violence. So, this is the DNC demonizing in a covert manner, through its chain of command… a Democrat, saying that a Democrat was conducting violence when you have the same allegations against the Trump campaign, thereby watering down the critique against the Trump campaign.”
The political satirist then got tougher with Assange, claiming that the stolen info WikiLeaks published from the DNC “came from Russia,” and that, since he does not like Hillary Clinton and Putin doesn’t either, the Aussie “looks like you’re working with a bad actor—Russia—and putting your thumb on the scale to basically fuck with the one person who stands in the way of us being ruled by Donald Trump.”
“Our materials, the materials that we release, are pristine,” answered Assange, avoiding the question of whether or not the organization is doing Vladimir Putin’s bidding. “We’re really good at this. We have a ten-year perfect record of never having got it wrong in relation to the integrity of what we release. There’s no allegation, even from Debbie Wasserman Schultz or any of these people, that any of the material is not completely valid and true. What there is, is a conflation between our publications—the DNC leaks—and an extensive variety of hacks of the DNC, and frankly other organizations over the last two years, possibly by state actors, that wasn’t at all surprising.”
Maher then posed a question: “Why don’t you hack into Donald Trump’s tax returns?” since the real estate heir has refused to release his taxes, thereby becoming the first U.S. presidential candidate in decades to do so.
“Well, we’re working on it,” a smirking Assange replied.
Later on during their semi-heated exchange, Maher brought up Snowden’s recent criticism of WikiLeaks—and their “hostility to even modest curation.” Instead of brushing aside the question, Assange took aim at Snowden, minimizing his contribution to society and condemning him for “trying to get a pardon” from President Obama before he exits office.
“I have to make a little bit of a complaint here, although I shouldn’t really go there. You know, Edward Snowden hasn’t published anything in three years,” said Assange. “He did one thing—it was a very important thing. And it was in fact so important that I, and this organization, saved his ass by rescuing him from Hong Kong, getting him asylum, making 23 asylum applications, and setting up his defense fund of the Courage Foundation, which I am a trustee of today. So, OK, I know Edward is trying to get a pardon at the end of the Obama presidency so he’s playing that game. I understand. He’s in a very serious situation.”