WikiLeaks head signaled intent to damage Clinton campaign before leak

WikiLeaks head signaled intent to damage Clinton campaign before leak
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Six weeks prior to the release of the stolen Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared to signal that an upcoming leak was designed to damage Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHeller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 MORE’s presidential campaign.

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“We have upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton, which are great. WikiLeaks actually has a very big year ahead,” Assange said in the June 12 interview on British TV.

The interview was conducted days before the DNC hack was revealed and the hacker who claimed credit for it told tech news site Motherboard that he would be turning over the stolen documents to WikiLeaks.

The controversial WikiLeaks leader — who is currently avoiding a rape charge by living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London — is a vocal critic of the former secretary of State.

The WikiLeaks site itself refers to the DNC leak as part of its “Hillary Leaks series” and has republished in a searchable format the thousands of emails from Clinton’s private server made public on the State Department website.

Asked if he would prefer GOP candidate Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE to be president, Assange acknowledged that the business mogul is “a completely unpredictable phenomenon,” but argued against a Clinton presidency based on his "personal perspective.”

He said Clinton is one of the main U.S. officials pushing to punish him for releasing hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables stolen by Pvt. Chelsea Manning during Clinton’s tenure at the State Department.

Manning is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence. Assange has not been charged.

“We do see her as a bit of a problem for freedom of the press more generally,” Assange said.

Assange vowed that the group has accumulated enough material on Clinton that “we could proceed to an indictment,” although he added that “unfortunately” he did not expect that Attorney General Loretta Lynch would seek charges.

At the time of the interview, the Department of Justice hadn't yet announced it would not prosecute Clinton over her use of a private email server for classified material. It is unclear whether Assange was referring to the DNC materials, the already-published State Department emails or other materials associated with the Clinton Foundation, which he also referenced.

The anti-secrecy organization has already pushed back on reporting — originally from The New York Times — that Assange’s comments demonstrated an intent to “harm” Clinton, calling it “entirely false.”

WikiLeaks has also denied that it timed the release of the DNC emails to inflict maximum political damage on this week's Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia or Clinton’s campaign.

“WikiLeaks chose the publishing date. As usual, we published as soon as the docs were verified & as fast as resources permitted,” the group tweeted Sunday.

In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Assange vowed that his organization had “a lot more material” concerning the 2016 elections to release.

He accused Clinton’s campaign of trying to disrupt focus on the content of the DNC emails themselves by blaming Russia for their release.

“What we have right now is the Hillary Clinton campaign using a speculative allegation about hacks that have occurred in the past to try and divert attention from our emails, another separate issue that WikiLeaks has published,” he said.

“I think this raises a very serious question, which is that the natural instincts of Hillary Clinton and the people around her, that when confronted with a serious domestic political scandal, that she tries to blame the Russians, blame the Chinese, etc.,” Assange added. "If she does that when she’s in government, that’s a political, managerial style that can lead to conflict."