More DNC information to come, says WikiLeaks founder

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange makes a speech from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy, in central London, Britain February 5, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo - RTSFTLP

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JUDY WOODRUFF: While the Republican Party has seen its share of conflicts this week, recent events have also unearthed discord within the ranks of the Democrats as well.

The hacking of Democratic National Committee e-mails, experts say by the Russian government, and the posting of e-mails on WikiLeaks, led to the resignation of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other top officials, and exposed rifts within the party.

But the revelation also caused speculation about how WikiLeaks got them and why they released them.

So, we decided to talk to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been holed up for four years to avoid extradition to the U.S.

I spoke with him a short while ago.

Julian Assange, welcome.

You said this week that WikiLeaks is going to be releasing more of the information that was hacked from the Democratic National Committee in different batches. So when will the next batch come?

JULIAN ASSANGE, Founder, WikiLeaks: I’m afraid I must correct you, Judy. I didn’t say that we would be releasing information that has been hacked from the DNC.

We said that we have a significant amount of information, and the information itself is significant, and it pertains to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. And we will be releasing it in several batches as we are finished with the journalistic work on each batch.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, are you saying this is different from what was hacked from the DNC and the Democratic Congressional Committee?

JULIAN ASSANGE: You have DNC leaks, which is what we do, and you have DNC hacks, which is an issue that goes back several years.

There’s been a lot of confusion, which has been pushed by the Hillary Clinton campaign to try and confuse hacking of the DNC by a wide variety of actors over the last two years, and our publication of 20,000 e-mails from the DNC.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me just pursue that, though. In terms of what WikiLeaks has, you have said you’re analyzing the material and you’re looking at which media partners to work with to get — I think you said maximum uptake from it.

Can you tell us anything tonight about what’s in that material?

JULIAN ASSANGE: It’s a wide range of material. It covers a number of important issues. There’s a variety of natural batches and some thematic constellations that we’re working on.

It’s interesting material. We have done enough work now that we are comfortable with the material’s authenticity. And so now it’s a matter of completing the format, layout to make it easy and accessible and so that journalists can easily extract material from it, extract stories from it, and also the general public.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What would you consider a successful outcome from all this? We know that already four top officials from the Democratic National Committee have resigned. What would you consider the successful outcome, the most damage that could be done from this?

JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, WikiLeaks began 10 years.

We take leaks, principally from whistle-blowers, of material that is of diplomatic, political, ethical or historical significance, typically about corruption or war. And we verify it. And we publish it and we write analysis about it.

And we also engineer globe-spanning media collaborations in order to get the best understanding of that material. And we place it in our library, which is available to everyone, has more than 10 million documents in it now which we feel that otherwise would not have come before the public, and that performs an ongoing role leading to great works in investigative journalism, successful court cases, civil litigation, criminal process, and, of course, also contributes to public understanding during the moments of political competition.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you about that, about the — what you consider a successful outcome here, because we know you have made clear your strong feelings about Hillary Clinton.

You wrote back in February — and I’m quoting now — “She’s a war hawk who gets an unseemly emotional rush out of killing people. She shouldn’t be let near a gun shop, much less an army. She certainly shouldn’t become president.”

So, I think, why shouldn’t the American people assume there’s a political motive here?

JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, let’s flip it the other way around. Let’s say that I personally, the editor — my personal opinion is different to my function as an editor.

But let’s say that, personally, I loved Hillary Clinton. Would WikiLeaks still publish this material? Of course it would. Otherwise, we would be censoring it. That’s our mandate. It’s actually interesting to think about what media organizations wouldn’t publish such material if it was given to them.

I think that’s a very interesting question. So, my position, as an analyst is that, yes, that Hillary Clinton is a war hawk. But the statement was made within the context of the early phases of the Democratic primaries. It is by no means an endorsement of Donald Trump.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But you still would oppose her becoming president, which is what you wrote?

JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, I — my personal analysis is that, if you are concerned about U.S. foreign policy and getting into foolish wars, then Hillary Clinton is not your woman. On the other hand, I mean neither is Donald Trump.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But, bottom line, why shouldn’t the American people look at this and say, this is an effort to undermine the Clinton campaign, the Democratic Party?

JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, I can reveal to you the source of the information today. The source of the information is the Democratic Party. It is Debbie Wasserman Schultz. It is the chief financial officer. It is the communications officer, Luis Miranda, in fact all these people who have just been fired, and another (INAUDIBLE) so that’s the source of the information that’s known.

As to who the intermediaries are, that’s another question. It’s also a little bit concerning to see the sort of McCarthyist attempt to frame Trump as some kind of Russian conspirator.

I think both presidential candidates are extremely problematic. But a kind of McCarthyist hysteria, trying to depict one of the candidates as somehow a Manchurian Candidate, I think is a bit disturbing. And then also a push for journalists to reveal their sources, as a journalist, it’s disgusting.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I wanted to give you a chance to say what you believe, Julian Assange.

But WikiLeaks, we know, argues for transparency. It’s part of your very mission. And so isn’t this an extension of that, transparency about where this explosive material came from, how it fell into your hands?

JULIAN ASSANGE: As I said, we know exactly where it came from. It came from materials that were just published. We know exactly where it came from. It came from the DNC.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re saying the future batches will be material from Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former head of the DNC, and others? Is that — am I hearing you correctly?

JULIAN ASSANGE: No, we haven’t said what it is precisely that we are going to publish. We’re working on it. We obviously want it to be a bit of a surprise, because it encourages public uptake and interest, which is what all — all material seeks.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Julian Assange, we thank you for talking with us.

JULIAN ASSANGE: Thank you, Judy.

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