Just hours after Donald Trump pulled off what some are calling the biggest upset ever in U.S. political history, a pro-Kremlin political analyst said Wednesday Moscow may have “helped a bit” in the hacking that enabled WikiLeaks to release tens of thousands of emails from the accounts belonging to the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
The Guardian quoted Sergei Markov as saying “maybe we helped a bit with WikiLeaks” while at the same time denying Russia had interfered with the U.S. election.
U.S. intelligence officials blamed Russian hackers for the leak of DNC emails ahead of the Democratic National Convention that forced the resignation of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The emails indicated the party favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders for the presidential nomination.
WikiLeaks Wednesday released more of Podesta’s emails, a trove of 225 missives that mainly dealt with routine scheduling matters and policy positions. One of the emails included an exchange among campaign staffers discussing “vulnerability study groups” to determine how to counter Clinton’s perceived weaknesses. So far, the website has published more than 50,000 emails from Podesta’s private Gmail account.
One of the emails warns the New York Times is investigating “Clinton/Bill Clinton and ready to pop something.” The email was written by Washington Post reporter Dan Balz to former Clinton Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides, who forwarded it to Clinton aide Cheryl Mills, who in turn sent it to Podesta.
Another called a planned fundraiser with Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes a “bad idea.” Holmes raised hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital for a revolutionary blood testing device that was found to be inaccurate.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London, has denied Russian hackers provided the information to his organization and denied WikiLeaks was trying to influence the election.
“The Clinton campaign, when they were not spreading obvious untruths, pointed to unnamed sources or to speculative and vague statements from the intelligence community to suggest a nefarious allegiance with Russia. The campaign was unable to invoke evidence about our publications — because none exists,” Assange said in a blog post.
He also said he would have published information on Trump if someone had provided it.
Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a brief statement congratulating Trump and said he had sent a congratulatory telegram expressing the hope the U.S. and Russia can “work together” to ease tensions, the Associated Press reported.
Trump repeatedly praised Putin during the campaign and downplayed Russian aggression toward neighboring states.