WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says US President Barack Obama is using the alleged hacking attacks against Democrats to “delegitimize” President-elect Donald Trump before his January 20 inauguration. “They’re trying to delegitimize the Trump administration as it goes into the White House,” Assange said in a Fox News interview to be aired on Tuesday night, according to a transcript provided by the network. “They are trying to say that President-elect Trump is not a legitimate President,” said Assange, who has taken refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
The buildup to the November 8 face-off between Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton was heavily overshadowed by a series of email leaks that were mainly published by WikiLeaks. The hacked emails, mostly belonging to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Clinton’s top aide John Podesta, purportedly dealt a blow to Clinton’s campaign by revealing the mechanisms of her campaign.
Those emails, coupled with Clinton’s own email fiasco, contributed to the former secretary of state’s unfavorability ratings before election, leading to her ignominious defeat. Democrats and the Obama administration have been blaming the hacks on Russia, accusing Moscow of meddling in the vote to get Trump elected. The Kremlin has categorically denied the claims. Last week, Obama ordered a series of new sanctions against Russia and expelled 35 Russian diplomats over the alleged hackings.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, said he was not going to retaliate and would rather wait until Trump takes office. The New York billionaire has said that his administration would take a friendlier line with Russia, an about-face compared to Obama’s aggressive approach. WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy website, that published the emails, has made it clear that a whistle-blower inside the DNC was behind the leaks and Russia had nothing to do with them.
“Our publications had wide uptake by the American people, they’re all true,” Assange told Fox News. “But that’s not the allegation that’s being presented by the Obama White House.” “Our source is not a state party, so the answer for our interactions is no,” he added. Assange said it was impossible to say if it was WikiLeaks that changed the outcome of the election. “But if it did, the accusation is that the true statements of Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager, John Podesta, and the DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz, their true statements is what changed the election,” he argued.