Former director of national intelligence James Clapper says U.S. intelligence officials last year identified a person suspected of transferring thousands of hacked DNC emails to Wikileaks on behalf of the Russian government.
“We had a suspect,” Clapper told Yahoo! News’ Michael Isikoff in an interview for the “Skullduggery” podcast.
Clapper, who left government on Jan. 20, 2017, said that by the time he left office, U.S. officials had identified a “cut-out” selected by Russian intelligence to pass nearly 20,000 stolen DNC emails to Wikileaks in April 2016. (RELATED: Clapper: No ‘Smoking Gun Evidence’ Of Collusion)
Clapper said of the cut-out’s identity that U.S. intelligence officials were “pretty confident at the time but not sufficient enough to publicize it.”
“I don’t know whether the suspicions we had at the time were conveyed [to Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller] or whether they were validated,” he told Isikoff.
Clapper’s comments mark the first indication that the U.S. government identified a suspect in the DNC email hack.
Wikileaks released the DNC emails on July 22, 2016, during the Democratic National Convention. The documents served to fracture the Democratic party because they showed that top DNC officials appeared to favor Hillary Clinton over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. (RELATED: Clapper: ‘It’s A Good Thing’ The FBI Was Spying On The Trump Campaign)
Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, has denied that he received the emails from the Russian government.
“Our source is not the Russian government,” Assange told Fox News’ Sean Hannity in a Jan. 3, 2017 interview.
But Clapper told Isikoff that the Russian government used a cut-out in order to ensure Assange “plausible deniability.”
“In April, Russia used a third party ‘cut-out’ to send more than 19,000 DNC emails and more than 8,000 documents to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, attempting to cover its tracks and to give WikiLeaks some degree of deniability in knowing the source of the leaks,” Clapper wrote in his new book, “Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From a Life in Intelligence.”
Wikileaks also released thousands of emails stolen from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The website began publishing the documents in October 2016.
Clapper did not suggest that the Trump campaign was aware of the Kremlin and Wikileaks’ activities. He has regularly stated that he saw no “smoking gun evidence” of Trump campaign collusion when he worked in government.
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