Right-wing pundits like Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin and Tucker Carlson have recently fallen head over heels for Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. President-elect Donald Trump has tried to stay distant from Assange, but he’s an open admirer of Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist talking head who loves the hacker.
On Thursday morning, Trump tweeted that “the dishonest media likes saying that I am in Agreement with Julian Assange–wrong. I simply state what he states.” However, that follows a tweet he sent out on Wednesday morning saying “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!” Many saw this as the president-elect believing the WikiLeaks editor-in-chief over American intelligence communities.
In a C-SPAN interview, vice-president-elect Mike Pence sidestepped the question of Assange’s credibility, stating that Donald Trump has “expressed his very sincere and healthy American skepticism about intelligence conclusions.”
As the members of the Senate have been briefed by intelligence communities, most of them have arisen as fierce critics of the DNC hacks and Julian Assange.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Wednesday in a CNN interview that Trump “seems to have a blind spot” on Russia. Graham and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have both stated that they believe Russia was behind the 2016 hacks.
Wednesday, in a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan described Assange as “a sycophant for Russia.”
On Thursday morning, the chiefs of the intelligence agencies testified before Congress on the Russian hacks. McCain asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper if “there’s any credibility that we should attach to Julian Assange.” The intelligence head responded, “Not in my view.”
Trump and Pence are scheduled to be briefed about the DNC hacks by the intelligence heads on Friday.
Assange has said repeatedly that the sources of the DNC hacks were not affiliated with the Kremlin, but that is at odds with the findings of at least 17 different American intelligence agencies.