Two things we did learn from the redacted Mueller report this week, one, that Russia definitely interfered with the 2016 elections, and two, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks were a part of that interference and Assange used the tragic death of DNC staffer Seth Rich to further his conspiracy.
Julian Assange not only knew that a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer wasn’t his source for thousands of hacked party emails, he was in active contact with his real sources in Russia’s GRU months after Seth Rich’s death. At the same time he was publicly working to shift blame onto the slain staffer “to obscure the source of the materials he was releasing,” Special Counsel Robert Mueller asserts in his final report on Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election.
“After the U.S. intelligence community publicly announced its assessment that Russia was behind the hacking operation, Assange continued to deny that the Clinton materials released by WikiLeaks had come from Russian hacking,” the report reads. “According to media reports, Assange told a U.S. congressman that the DNC hack was an ‘inside job,’ and purported to have ‘physical proof’ that Russians did not give materials to Assange.”
Thursday’s long-anticipated release adds new details about Assange’s interactions with the officers in Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate. Still, it leaves one question unanswered: Why was Assange so determined to exonerate the Russian intelligence agents who gave him the material?
As laid out by Mueller, Assange’s involvement in Russia’s election interference began with a June 14, 2016 direct message to WikiLeaks’ Twitter account from “DC Leaks,” one of the false fronts created by the Russians to launder their hacked material.
“You announced your organization was preparing to publish more Hillary's emails,” the message read, according to Mueller’s report. “We are ready to support you. We have some sensitive information too, in particular, her financial documents. Let's do it together. What do you think about publishing our info at the same moment? Thank you.”
A week later, WikiLeaks reached out to a second GRU persona, Guccifer 2.0, and pitched WikiLeaks as the best outlet for the hacked material. On July 14, 2016, GRU officers used a Guccifer 2.0 email address to send WikiLeaks an encrypted one-gigabyte file named “wk dnc link I .txt.gpg.” Assange confirmed receipt, and on July 22 he published 20,000 DNC emails stolen during the GRU’s breach.
By then, it was no secret where the documents came from. The computer security firm CrowdStrike had already published its technical report on the DNC breach, which laid out a trail leading directly to Moscow and the GRU. Analysts at ThreatConnect independently presented evidence that Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks were fictional creations of that agency.
But rather than refuse to comment on his sources, as he’s done in other cases, Assange used his platform to deny that he got the material from Russians, and make statements at an alternative theory. On August 9, 2016, WikiLeaks’ Twitter feed announced a $20,000 reward for “information leading to conviction for the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich.”
We'll run this back one more time for the folks in the cheap seats:
- The Russians stole the DNC emails.
- The Russians gave them to WikiLeaks to disseminate them.
- The plan was to do as much damage to Clinton as possible.
- Donald Trump knew the leaks of the stolen emails were coming before they happened.
- After the leaks happened, Assange continued to stay in contact with his Russian sources.
- Assange covered for them by lying and saying Seth Rich was his source.