Julian Assange played a major role in the US presidential election — that is if you believe, as many do, that the daily drip of emails WikiLeaks released from Hillary Clinton confidant John Podesta damaged enthusiasm for the Democratic candidate. Assange, who positions himself as a transparency advocate rather than a political operative, told Sean Hannity this week that he would do the same thing to Donald Trump. But that would be four years from now, if Trump puts himself in a position where he angers someone enough that they hack his accounts and send the info to WikiLeaks. (Assange has categorized Clinton as “a bit of a problem for freedom of press generally” — a problem he evidently didn’t have with Trump.)
During the 2016 campaign, of course, Assange released no previously unknown information about Trump. Assange told Hannity that what Wikileaks had on Trump was “already public elsewhere” so they didn’t release it. (Perhaps because the most controversial information about Trump was all brazenly issued in public by the candidate himself?) But even Trump’s lightning rod tax returns, which the candidate failed to make public after promising he would, weren’t exposed by Assange. Yet in keeping with his self-portrayal as a valiant (if rogue) public servant interested merely in transparency, Assange indicated that Trump would not be spared. In the future, that is. But it’s a fact that in 2016 Trump was spared the sort of leaks that haunted the Clinton campaign, a fact that jeopardizes WikiLeaks’ already leaky reputation as an equal opportunity offender.