Assange stirs Trump, Republican alliance

By Peter Mitchell, AAP US CorrespondentAustralian Associated Press

Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has caused a new stir in US politics that could fracture the uneasy alliance between president-elect Donald Trump and Republican Party members of Congress.

Mr Trump on Wednesday trumpeted a new interview where Mr Assange said Russia did not give WikiLeaks the huge dump of emails hacked from the account of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign director John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee.

Mr Trump’s praise for Mr Assange’s comments contrasts with the president-elect’s scornful response to US government intelligence agencies who believe Russia attempted to influence the November presidential election.

“Julian Assange said ‘a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta’ – why was DNC so careless?” Trump wrote on Twitter.

“Also said Russians did not give him the info!”

WikiLeaks’ release of thousands of Mr Podesta’s and the DNC’s emails before the election embarrassed and damaged Ms Clinton’s campaign.

Mr Assange, who was interviewed by FOX News commentator Sean Hannity, has been holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London since 2012 to prevent extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations and potentially to the US for leaking classified documents.

Senior Republican and House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has had a hot and cold relationship with Mr Trump, slammed Mr Assange on Wednesday as a “sycophant for Russia”.

“He leaks, he steals data and compromises national security,” Mr Ryan said in an interview on the Hugh Hewitt Radio Show.

Another senior Republican, Lindsey Graham, said the American people should not give a lot of credibility to what Mr Assange says.

“In Julian Assange’s world we are the bad guys, not the Iranians, not the Russians, not the North Koreans,” Senator Graham told CNN.

“You gotta remember who this guy is.”

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