Transparency group WikiLeaks said late Saturday it would hold a press conference Monday morning in response to the U.S. intelligence report published last week which said Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the hacks related to the U.S. 2016 election race in an effort to help President-elect Donald Trump win.
The declassified assessment by the NSA, CIA and FBI published Friday said Russian hackers relayed the information to WikiLeaks which then published the emails.
“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary [Hillary] Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” the agencies wrote in the long-awaited report.
“Moscow most likely chose WikiLeaks because of its self-proclaimed reputation for authenticity. Disclosures through WikiLeaks did not contain any evident forgeries,” the report said.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has consistently denied receiving any information from the Russians. In an interview with Fox News last week, he once again denied the allegations.
“We can say, we have said, repeatedly that over the last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party,” Assange said, adding that President Barack Obama was “acting like a lawyer” with the claims.
“If you look at most of his statements, he doesn’t say that. He doesn’t say that WikiLeaks obtained its information from Russia, worked with Russia,” Assange said.
In the same interview, the 45-year-old said a teenager could have hacked Clinton aide John Podesta’s email account.
“We published several... emails which show Podesta responding to a phishing email,” Assange said. “Podesta gave out that his password was the word ‘password’. His own staff said this email that you’ve received, this is totally legitimate. So, this is something... a 14-year-old kid could have hacked Podesta that way.”
Meanwhile, Moscow rejected the 25-page report which claimed Kremlin had a “clear preference” for Trump.
Alexei Pushkov, a member of the defense and security committee of the upper house of the Russian Parliament, reportedly tweeted Friday: “All the accusations against Russia are based on ‘confidence’ and suppositions. The USA in the same way was confident about (Iraqi leader Saddam) Hussein having weapons of mass destruction.”
In October last year, Putin dismissed the allegations, saying: “There is nothing in Russia’s interest. The hysteria aims only to distract the attention of the American people from the substance of what hackers had put out. And the substance is the manipulation of public opinion.”
“Does it really matter who did it?” he reportedly asked.
Trump also dismissed the allegations blaming the DNC for their “gross negligence” which allowed for the hacking to take place. The president-elect tweeted Saturday that good relations with Russia would be “a good thing” and “only ‘stupid’ people, or fools, would think that it is bad!”
The latest intelligence report was published shortly after Obama and Trump had been briefed by the intelligence agencies about their findings. In a statement after his briefing, Trump denied claims that the outcome of the 2016 race was affected by the hacks.
“While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines,” the real estate mogul said.