In a twist that's strange even by 2016 standards, there is mounting evidence that Julian Assange and Vladimir Putin have been working together to undermine Hillary Clinton. Assange, a longtime Clinton critic, declared last month that "upcoming leaks" would damage the "liberal war hawk." At the time, he was widely assumed to be talking about emails from her private server, but it now appears he was talking about the Democratic National Committee emails that WikiLeaks released on Friday, the New York Times reports. Assange admits that the release, which worsened Democratic discord and caused the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was timed to coincide with the Democratic convention. A roundup of developments:
- Most cybersecurity experts believe Russia was behind the DNC hack. NBC News spoke to experts who explained why Vladimir Putin hates Clinton "with such a passion that he wants to embarrass her personally and undermine—if not derail—her presidential campaign."
- In an interview with Democracy Now, Assange discusses the DNC leak and says news that Wasserman Schultz will have a role in the Clinton campaign signals "that if you act in a corrupt way that benefits Hillary Clinton, you will be taken care of." He says he won't reveal the source of the leaked emails, but he notes the DNC has "been hacked dozens and dozens of times."
- In an interview with NBC News, Assange says people should be focusing on the leak, not the source. "The real story is what these emails contain, and they show collusion at the very top of the Democratic Party" to derail Bernie Sanders' campaign, he says.
- The Clinton campaign has claimed the emails were leaked to help Donald Trump. The Washington Post spoke to Sanders, who called the leak, and Trump's past praise of Putin, an "issue of concern."
- Reuters spoke to intelligence sources who say the DNC hack might not be motivated by dislike of Clinton or a desire to help Trump, but by Putin's desire to push back against what he sees as "encirclement" by the West. One source described Putin's attitude as a "hangover" from his KGB days.
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