No, WikiLeaks Isn’t Trying to Hack Trump’s Tax Returns

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Assange is still living at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he sought asylum in 2012 after facing extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault.Photo: Carl Court

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in a Friday-night interview with Real Time host Bill Maher that WikiLeaks was “working on” a hack of Donald Trump’s still-unreleased tax returns, but the organization itself then rejected that assertion as a joke on Saturday morning. Maher repeatedly challenged Assange in the combative interview over Assange’s perceived interference in the U.S. election, then asked if he would also hack into Trump’s tax returns — which the candidate has, in a breach of precedent, refused to release. Last month, WikiLeaks published a trove of hacked DNC emails which indicated that officials within the Democratic Party favored Clinton over primary opponent Bernie Sanders. This led to several resignations by party leaders, including DNC chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Assange said on Friday night that he was “super-happy” with the aftermath of the DNC leak, and has previously hinted that the release of the emails was timed to coincide with the beginning of the Democratic National Convention, in order to achieve maximum coverage and damage. Assange has also been a longtime critic of Clinton, who he views as a kind of personal foe.

At one point Maher said to Assange, referring to the likelihood that the DNC hack was carried out by elements of the Russian government:

Why haven’t we seen anything hacked from the Trump campaign? I mean, obviously we know these [files] came from Russia … So it looks like you’re working with a bad actor — Russia — and putting your thumb on the scale to basically fuck with the one person who stands in the way of us being ruled by Donald Trump.

Assange did not respond to that assertion, prompting Maher to ask about Trump’s tax returns. Here’s the full interview:

Assange has additionally said that WikiLeaks has more Clinton-related material to release, though it has been erroneously reported that he also said that the still unreleased information would lead to a criminal indictment for the Democratic presidential nominee. Assange has refused to confirm the origin of the DNC information which WikiLeaks obtained.