On Thursday morning, the U.S. Justice Department released Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The investigation described in Mueller’s report was wide-reaching and vigorous:
Volume I of the report, which “describes the factual results of the Special Counsel’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and its interactions with the Trump Campaign,” confirms that WikiLeaks played an important role in disseminating stolen information. Indeed, WikiLeaks’ involvement in Russian hacking and disinformation campaigns has long been a topic of discussion. Yet, Mueller’s revelations about WikiLeaks are significant in that they will likely play a major role in the House Intelligence Committee’s congressional investigations into President Trump.
Mueller’s report is clear in its assertions that WikiLeaks aided the Trump campaign in order to prevent a Clinton presidency, though it also noted that the investigation was sometimes limited by inability to access hidden or encrypted communication. In November 2015 talks with other WikiLeaks members and associates, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stated that “[we] believe it would be much better for GOP to win. . . Dems+media+liberals woudl [sic] then form a block to reign in their worst qualities. . . . With Hillary in charge, GOP will be pushing for her worst qualities., dems+media+neoliberals will be mute. . . . She’s a bright, well connected, sadistic sociopath.” The report also highlights the timing of information dumps, noting that they often followed unflattering media coverage of candidate Trump, sometimes by less than an hour.
Mueller’s investigation unearthed new details about WikiLeaks’ contacts with associates of the Trump campaign. It discovered that WikiLeaks sent Donald Trump Jr. a password he used to access putintrump.org illicitly:
The report also states that WikiLeaks directed Donald Trump Jr. to promote emails stolen from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s personal email account. Two days later, he obliged:
In addition, Mueller’s team reveals WikiLeaks’ attempts to fuel Seth Rich conspiracy theories “to obscure the source of the materials” they published, namely emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee by Russian hackers:
It is unclear what ramifications these findings may have in the context of Assange’s arrest last week.