Microsoft has joined Facebook in saying it is investigating whether Russian operatives paid for “inappropriate” pro-Trump ads on its Bing search engine and other platforms. Social media giant Facebook has said a Russian company placed thousands of ads on their network at a cost of more than $100,000, including some that targeted states crucial to Trump’s victory. Last week, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee said it reached the conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Meanwhile, CIA Director Mike Pompeo has blasted Wikileaks as a hostile intelligence service that is often abetted by state actors like Russia, and Trump adviser Roger Stone declined to confirm to the House Intelligence Committee that he was directly in contact with WikiLeaks about damaging information on then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. We get response from Julian Assange, the founder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to get your opinion on all of the news that’s breaking right now. On Monday, Google said suspected Russian agents paid for tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of political advertisements last year aimed at swaying the 2016 presidential election. Managers at Microsoft said Monday they, too, were investigating whether Russian operatives paid for “inappropriate” pro-Trump ads on its Bing search engine and other platforms. Social media giant Facebook has said a Russian company placed thousands of ads on their network, at a cost of more than $100,000. CNN reports a number of ads specifically targeted Michigan and Wisconsin, two states crucial to Trump’s victory in November. And Twitter reported last month that it discovered about 200 accounts linked to a Russian campaign to influence the election. This comes as the head of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee said last week it’s reached the conclusion that Russia did interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Republican Senator Richard Burr said his committee is still examining evidence to determine if there’s any collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign. Your response to all of this, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, I think there’s a very good article recently published in The Nation which goes through all of that, and it’s shown to be nearly all fiction. The parts that you can actually determine, where you can compare with internally contradictory statements or other things, shows that it’s nearly all fiction. Whether there’s any truth to it, I don’t know. We haven’t researched that.
Yeah, I would say that I think it’s very concerning to see this neo-McCarthyist hysteria, very, very dangerous in geopolitical terms. And, of course, it’s an attempt to, you know, to unite the Democratic Party. CIA structures it together in—and the media, in their assault against the Trump regime. But I think there’s plenty of important things to criticize the Trump administration about—for example, their promises to help the working class, but, in fact, trying to push forward enormous tax cuts for the rich. And these are the things that should be concentrated on, not leaping into an insane bout of anti-Russian hysteria.
AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange, I wanted to ask you about Roger Stone. In March of 2016, he posted on Facebook that he, quote, “never denied that Assange and I had a mutual friend who told me Wikileaks had the goods on HRC“—that’s Hillary Rodham Clinton—”and would begin disclosures in Oct. He did and they did. I didn’t admit it- I announced it,” unquote. In a series of tweets, which he later deleted, Roger Stone also attacked a woman who challenged him on Twitter, writing, quote, “You stupid, stupid [B-word]–never denied perfectly legal back channel to Assange who indeed had the goods on #CrookedHillary [sic].” I now wanted to talk about the latest, Roger Stone going to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and what came out of that. Your response to that?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Roger Stone has been trolling Democrats all his life, and he’s doing exactly the same thing, in order to elevate his profile. That’s all. You can look at our statements at the time. He didn’t say anything that I hadn’t been saying in public at the time.
AMY GOODMAN: So, let me turn to Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff speaking at a hearing of the House—
JULIAN ASSANGE: I would just say that the effectiveness of that trolling just shows you how mad the U.S. political culture has become. Is Roger Stone presented as a credible character in his statements? Is that a credible person? Do Democrats think that he’s credible?
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I think the issue is his closeness to Trump. And whether or not you think Trump or Roger Stone is credible, the—
JULIAN ASSANGE: Look, he’s—if he had something to worry about, why would he be deliberately playing it up, constantly? He doesn’t have anything to worry about. That’s why he’s playing it up.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean?
JULIAN ASSANGE: He doesn’t have anything to worry about because there is no back channel. There was never a back channel. I’ve said it at the time. He’s produced no evidence of it. We have complained about it. He’s simply trolling the absolute—you know, they want to be trolled. They don’t care. They don’t care what the truth is at all. All they want is some little propaganda point that they can use to somehow satisfy their ridiculous fantasies about taking down Trump in relation to Russia. And if Roger Stone is going to help with that, they will give him a massive platform. And that’s exactly what they’ve done. And he’s sold a lot more book as a result. I mean, you have to admire the chutzpah and, I suppose, the cleverness at which he’s done it. It’s, in some sense, admirable. What is not admirable, even though it’s really irritated us, is the—I don’t know, the slavish reaction of those—you know, he just throws a ball, like that, and these mindless mobs of people aligned to the Democrats and the Democratically aligned media in the United States run after it, and eventually over the cliff.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, let me turn to Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff speaking at a hearing of the House Intelligence Committee earlier this year.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF: On August 8th, Roger Stone, a longtime Trump political adviser and self-proclaimed political dirty trickster, boasts in a speech that he has communicated with Assange and that more documents would be coming, including an October surprise. In the middle of August, he also communicates with the Russian cutout Guccifer 2.0 and authors a Breitbart piece denying Guccifer’s links to Russian intelligence. Then, later in August, Stone does something truly remarkable, when he predicts that John Podesta’s personal emails will soon be published. “Trust me,” he says, “it will soon be Podesta’s time in the barrel, hashtag #CrookedHillary.” In the weeks that follow, Stone shows a remarkable prescience. “I have total confidence that WikiLeaks and my hero, Julian Assange, will educate the American people soon,” he says, hashtag, “#LockHerUp.” “Payload coming,” he predicts. And two days later, it does. WikiLeaks releases its first batch of Podesta emails. The release of John Podesta’s emails would then continue on a daily basis up until the election.
AMY GOODMAN: Your response, Julian Assange, to Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee, ranking Democrat?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Adam Schiff is not a credible person. He’s just—he’s just lying in order to, you know, score political points. I had been saying all these things publicly, that we were going to publish information on Hillary Clinton before the election. Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: So, this is—
JULIAN ASSANGE: And the media—the media got it into its stupid head, in fact, that we were going to publish it on October 4th, and that spread around everywhere. And so Roger Stone’s comments are responding to that kind of thing. But I don’t want to feed into—I mean, I understand that there’s a weird psychological phenomenon happening in the United States presently, but I don’t want to feed into it, because I think it’s essentially inconsequential, in historical circumstances, unless it leads to a war with Russia. I mean, I don’t know what the Trump campaign’s connections are with Russia. I can only speak about us. Had no connections with us. We have no connections with Russia. So, I think it’s—and I think if the Russians have done anything else, as far as I can see, it’s not of a consequential nature.
AMY GOODMAN: But, Julian, this is the—this—
JULIAN ASSANGE: So, maybe something will come out, but as far as I can determine—not that I’m spending a lot of time on it—as far as I can determine, there’s nothing of any scale or significance.
AMY GOODMAN: But this is the anniversary of the email being released, the John Podesta emails. And I think it’s important because what’s happening in these congressional investigations, Roger Stone is a key figure, whether you think he’s credible or not, to have you respond, to make your point. I wanted to play Roger Stone—
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yeah, he is brilliantly—
AMY GOODMAN: Let me just play, and you respond to Roger Stone.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yeah, he is—
AMY GOODMAN: Let me just play two quick clips. August 8th, this is him speaking in Florida.
REPORTER: With regard to the October surprise, what would be your forecast on that, given what Julian Assange has intimated he’s going to do?
ROGER STONE: Well, it could be any number of things. I actually have communicated with Assange. I believe the next tranche of his documents pertain to the Clinton Foundation. But there’s no telling what the October surprise may be.
AMY GOODMAN: Was he lying, Julian?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, as you said, he just said that they would pertain to the Clinton Foundation, which he was—he was wrong. He’s just repeating what I said in the press.
AMY GOODMAN: So then, more recently, let’s turn to Roger Stone speaking to reporters following his appearance in this closed hearing of the House Intelligence Committee. His interview with lawmakers was part of the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
ROGER STONE: I made the case that the accusation that I knew about John Podesta’s email hack in advance was false, that I knew about the content and source of the WikiLeaks disclosures regarding Hillary Clinton was false, and that my exchange with someone claiming to be Guccifer 2.0, when viewed through the context, content and timing, was benign and innocuous.
AMY GOODMAN: Stone also told reporters he declined to name his WikiLeaks intermediary during the interview.
ROGER STONE: The reason I am not submitting that name is because the intermediary is a journalist, and our conversation was off the record. I’m an opinion journalist. He’s a journalist. I’m not going to burn somebody who I spoke to off the record. If he releases me, if he allows me to release it, I would be happy to give it to the committee. I’m actually going to try to do that.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, of course, Roger Stone isn’t a journalist, but what is your response to what he’s saying right here, that there was an intermediary between you and him, who was a journalist?
JULIAN ASSANGE: That the United States’ political culture has gone mad. Roger Stone is trolling epically the Democratic political class in order to elevate his profile. And it’s sad to see that Democracy Now! is buying into it.
AMY GOODMAN: Presenting the news is not buying into it. Presenting the news is having you respond to what he’s saying because you are the center of this, in this particular case, and it’s important to hear your voice.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, look, Amy—look, Amy, I’m getting annoyed. There is a historic event occurring this afternoon involving Catalonia, that could well change the nature of Europe, what forms of repression are acceptable within the Western world, and what moves populations can take in order to resist repression and come together to secure their self-determination. This has been the greatest Gandhian project that has occurred. Millions of Catalonians turning out to vote in the street are being beaten aggressively by Spanish security forces, being hacked by Spanish security forces, having their telephone exchange occupied, having their political leadership arrested, being threatened, as we saw today, with rebellion and put in prison for a minimum of 25 years.
That is going to spread throughout the Western world. The lessons of this are going to spread throughout the Western world to—yes, to secessionist movements, but also to the states trying to repress them and to repress people’s struggles for self-determination, in general. The discipline with which the Catalan population have carried out their referendum is astounding. Astounding, that millions of people are going to the polls, being beaten by the police, and not one image of them fighting back. Not one image. That’s incredible discipline. And similarly in their marches and so on. And if the U.S. left is not absolutely obsessed with what is happening there and the redefinition that is occurring of the nature of the relationship between population and state, well, I mean, I have no time for you.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we certainly had time for you today, Julian, and I think you made some really critical points, and they’re important. And I wanted to end on an issue that I also think that you care about, and that’s the issue of—well, Chelsea Manning is out of jail.