Trump Uses Assange to Cast Doubt on U.S. Intel Case on Hacking

NEW YORK (AP) -
In this 2012 file photo, Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, speaks to the media and members of the public from a balcony at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

President-elect Donald Trump is using WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community’s case that Russia was behind hacking of the Democratic National Committee ahead of the 2016 election.

And he’s suggesting that the DNC is to blame for the hacking of its computers and emails, including those of top Hillary Clinton adviser John Podesta.

Trump continued his tweetstorm Wednesday by arguing the DNC did not have a “hacking defense” and questioning why the Democratic Party had not responded “to the terrible things they did and said.” He appeared to be referring to information in the DNC emails that was made public and led to the resignation of the DNC chairwoman and other officials.

“Julian Assange said ‘a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta’ — why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!” Trump tweeted early Wednesday.

It was a striking spectacle for the incoming president to give credibility to Assange, whose organization has been under criminal investigation for its role in classified information leaks. Assange has said his source for the hacked emails WikiLeaks published during the campaign was not a government, but his assertion has left open the possibility they came from a third party.

The American intelligence community and Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill insist that Russia was behind the hacks, but Trump has repeatedly dismissed that allegation, challenging the intelligence experts who will help him make the weightiest possible decisions once he becomes president Jan. 20. Trump has insisted that the government doesn’t really know who’s behind the attacks. He has said he’ll release more information this week.

In a series of tweets Tuesday and early Wednesday, Trump wrote that the timing of an upcoming intelligence briefing on suspected Russian interference in the 2016 election had been delayed. “Perhaps more time needed to build a case.”

“Very strange!” he wrote, using quote marks around the word “intelligence.”

Trump’s tweets, in line with repeated criticism of his nation’s intelligence leaders, caused confusion among intelligence officials, who said there was no delay in the briefing schedule.