The Slatest

WikiLeaks Says Assange Was Joking, Isn’t Trying to Hack Trump’s Tax Returns

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy, where he continues to seek asylum following an extradition request from Sweden in 2012, on Feb. 5, 2016 in London.

Carl Court/Getty Images

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange raised a few eyebrows on Friday night when he told Bill Maher that the organization was “working on” obtaining Donald Trump’s tax returns. It came at the end of a contentious interview about the Democratic National Committee leaks in which Maher pointed out that WikiLeaks hadn’t released anything from the Trump campaign. “Why don’t you hack into Donald Trump’s tax returns?” Maher asked. “Well, we’re working on it,” Assange replied.

On Saturday morning, WikiLeaks wrote on Twitter to ensure everyone knew Assange was joking:

Earlier in the interview, Maher said it sure looked like Assange was “working with a bad actor, Russia” to hurt “the one person who stands in the way of us being ruled by Donald Trump.” Assange then tried to move the conversation toward what he thought was a smoking gun against Maher, saying he had found there was a “William Maher” who “gave a Clinton-affiliated entity $1 million.” Maher explained he had famously given President Obama $1 million in 2012 and he never tried to hide it. When Assange pressed on whether he had also given money to Clinton, Maher shot back: “Fuck no.”

In another point of the interview, Assange also made it clear he was none too happy with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who criticized WikiLeaks last month due to “their hostility to even modest curation.”

Assange dismissed Snowden’s view and essentially called him ungrateful. “Edward Snowden hasn’t published anything in three years. He did one thing. It was a very important thing, and it was in fact so important that I and this organization saved his ass by rescuing him from Hong Kong, getting him asylum, making 23 asylum applications and setting up his defense fund.” The WikiLeaks founder then said Snowden only said that because he “is trying to get a pardon at the end of the Obama presidency, so he’s playing that game.”

Read more Slate coverage of the 2016 campaign.