Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for the first time has revealed that U.S. intelligence agencies had identified a suspect who served as the “cut-out” for Russian intelligence to funnel thousands of hacked Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails and documents to WikiLeaks.
He refused to identify the suspect by name but said that by the time he left office in January 2017 they knew who the suspect was.
In the interview Clapper was responding to questions about his new book, “Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From a Life in Intelligence.”
“We had a suspect,” said Clapper. “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.” U.S. intelligence officials were “pretty confident at the time but not sufficient enough to publicize it,” he said.
The exact way that hacked DNC emails made their way to WikiLeaks before being released to the public has never been revealed by the U.S. intelligence community. They have said they had figured it out and that it was done by agents of Russian intelligence but they have never given any more details.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has always claimed that he did not receive the stolen DNC emails from Russian intelligence. Last year he was interviewed by Sean Hannity on Fox News and said “our source is not the Russian government.”
Clapper told Yahoo News that the WikiLeaks transfer “cut-out” was selected by the Russians in order to allow Assange to say that he did not get the DNC emails directly from Russian intelligence. Using the cut-out as the conduit, or intermediary, allowed Assange to get the emails indirectly from Russian intelligence assets.
“The real point was it was an attempt to ensure Assange plausible deniability,” Clapper said. In his book, Clapper says that U.S. intelligence agencies had concluded that Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials had “publicly dumped” the DNC emails after they had decided in March of 2016 that “it was worth the risk of diplomatic blowback if they were caught” hacking the DNC.
According to Clapper, “this gave the green light to Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, to go on the offense, exfiltrating emails and large volumes of data.”
Then, Clapper added:
“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 told Yahoo News that he had found an “alarming” amount of what he called “parallelism” between Trump and the Russians. He said:
“There is striking parallelism between what the Trump campaign was doing and saying and what the Russians were doing and saying. It was almost like an echo chamber, particularly with respect to Hillary Clinton personally, and her alleged scandals and her alleged maladies, physical and mental. There were a lot of very similar themes that came ultimately from the Russians and the campaign.”
It’s great that James Clapper is now coming out and saying that the U.S. intelligence community had evidence that the DNC emails were given to Wikileaks by Russian intelligence. It would have been better, however, if he and other intelligence officials had given this proof to the public in time for them to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president with the help of his Russian friends.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.