Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta — who had more of his hacked emails released by Wikileaks Tuesday — said there is reason to believe the Donald Trump campaign had “advance warning” about the document release and implied there was a degree of coordination between the campaign and Russian intelligence.
More than 5,000 of Podesta’s electronic communications have been released since the first round of the recent Wikileaks document drops.
“I’ve been involved in politics for nearly five decades. And this definitely is the first campaign that I’ve been involved with in which I’ve had to tangle with Russian Intelligence agencies,” Podesta told reporters on board Clinton’s campaign plane. They “seem to be doing everything they can on behalf of our opponent,” Podesta added.
Podesta pointed to Trump adviser Roger Stone, who claimed in August to be in touch with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and who repeatedly tweeted about the coming email release in recent months, as evidence of a link between the campaign and the hackers.
“And he confirmed at that time that the information that Assange had came from Guccifer 2.0,” Podesta said. Guccifer 2.0 is a hacker, or group of hackers, that U.S. Officials have tied to Russian intelligence. “Around the same time, Stone pointed his finger at me and said, I could expect some treatment that would kind of expose me and ultimately sent out a tweet that said ‘it would be my time in the barrel.'”.
Podesta said that it is therefore “a reasonable conclusion, that Mr. Stone had advance warning, and the Trump campaign had advance warning about what Assange was going to do.”.
Last week, the Obama administration accused the Russian government of cyber attacks “intended to interfere with the U.S. Election process.” Among the hacks suspected of Russian involvement was the release of Democratic National Committee emails ahead of the convention. That data breach also involved Guccifer 2.0 and Wikileaks.
U.S. Formally points finger at Russians over hacking.
In one of the leaked emails, Clinton aide Brian Fallon is shown to be in direct contact with officials at the Justice Department. It appears the communication between the campaign and the Justice Department was about information that was publicly available regarding a court case related to Clinton’s use of a private email server. But the fact that a Clinton aide was in direct contact with the department investigating the candidate led to accusations of impropriety from the Trump team.
Trump communication adviser Jason Miller said the communication “shows a level of collusion which calls into question the entire investigation into her private server. The Department of Justice must release all communications with the Clinton campaign and her allies as soon as possible in order to definitively prove their investigation was completely above board.”.
Podesta speculates that Russian operatives released the hacked emails to sway the election in Trump’s favor because, “they’ve found somebody who essentially has adopted lock, stock and barrel the Putin foreign policy.” Podesta also cites “Mr. Trump’s deep engagement and ties with Russian interests in his business affairs,” as another possible explanation.
“We don’t know, we can’t be certain why the Russian government seems to be trying to interfere in this election in favor of Mr. Trump, but we do know that is in fact what has been going on, the hacks, the leaks, and the ongoing support for one side of this campaign,” said Podesta.
He also speculated that the Wikileaks releases have been timed to try and distract voters from the recording which surfaced Friday of Trump making sexually explicit and aggressive comments about women.
“It wasn’t any coincidence, I think, that within minutes of the Access Hollywood tape coming out, they decided that this was their countermove,” Podesta said.
The Clinton campaign has not verified the authenticity of Podesta’s leaked emails and the campaign says Russian hackers often falsify documents.