Last week Palmer Report brought you the story that intel community sources believed the U.S. could begin making arrests in the Trump-Russia scandal as soon as this week (link). In an announcement today which appears to be directly related, the U.S. government has announced it’s preparing charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange. But this may be a counter-move on Trump’s part to try to fend off what’s coming.
It’s not clear whether the U.S. can physically arrest Assange, who is holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Contrary to popular belief, Assange has not been trying to evade U.S. authorities, who up to now have not sought his arrest. Instead he’s been evading sexual assault charges coming out of Sweden (source: link). Now that the U.S. is also seeking to arrest Assange as of today (source: CNN), the government of Ecuador will need to take a revised position on extradition one way or the other.
During the election, Donald Trump and Congressman Mike Pompeo both repeatedly praised WikiLeaks whenever it leaked emails and secrets that had been stolen from the Democratic Party or the Hillary Clinton campaign. But recently Pompeo, who has since been appointed as Director of the CIA by Trump, publicly condemned WikiLeaks in harsh terms. And now Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is the one who is announcing that his Department of Justice is seeking the arrest of Assange.
The U.S. intelligence community has confirmed with great certainty that a Russian government hacker known as “Guccifer 2.0” stole the election data and gave it to WikiLeaks for public release. One of Trump’s campaign advisers Roger Stone now admits he was in communication with Guccifer and WikiLeaks during the election. It’s widely believed, though not yet proven based on publicly available evidence, that a deal was in place in which the Russian government hacked the election in Trump’s favor, and in return the Trump campaign took pro-Russia positions on issues including Ukraine and sanctions.
Now suddenly the Trump administration is seeking to arrest the leader of WikiLeaks for his role in meddling in the U.S. election. In so doing, the Trump administration is now tacitly admitting that WikiLeaks helped rig the election in Trump’s favor – but is presumably hoping the public will conclude that Trump can’t have been complicit in it if he’s now arresting Assange.
Because this move against Julian Assange is coming from Trump’s own hand picked allies, Sessions and Pompeo, it may be a last ditch attempt at fending off the FBI investigation into Trump-Russia. Or it may be an attempt at distracting from the FBI’s next big moves, which we believe are still forthcoming. Contribute to Palmer Report
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report