White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer returned to the lectern Monday to deliver a defense of Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting in June 2016 with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer. Spicer insisted at the press briefing that "there was nothing as far as we know that would lead anyone to believe" that Trump Jr.'s meeting was not focused on Russian adoption policies.
Except, of course, Trump Jr.'s own emails: Last week, Trump Jr. published his emails with publicist Rob Goldstone setting up the meeting, in which Goldstone explicitly said the lawyer claimed to have compromising information on Hillary Clinton that would help his father's chances in the presidential election.
One of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's more memorable lines in his interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity is that "a 14-year-old" could have hacked the gmail account of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta — it was the phrase Donald Trump used when he cited the Assange interview Wednesday morning to cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community's consensus that Russia hacked Podesta's emails. Trump fans in the conservative media have latched on to Assange's evidence to back up the claim: "We published several Podesta emails which shows Podesta responding to a phishing email. Now, how did they respond? Podesta gave out that his password was the word 'password.'" It's a good anecdote — Trump boosters ran with it:
John Podesta's password was "password." So it was either a very sophisticated state-sponsored hack by the Russians OR the morning bagel boy.
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) January 5, 2017
But Podesta's password was not "password," according to the emails published by WikiLeaks. One stolen 2015 email from Podesta's assistant did list "p@ssw0rd" as the login for his Windows 8 computer, but the only password tied to his gmail account was a more-respectable combination of the word "runner" and four digits. The actual way hackers broke into Podesta's email account is bad enough — an unfortunate typo by Clinton's tech adviser and Podesta's decision to use the corrupt link in the phishing email instead of the legitimate one sent by Clinton tech support. There's no need to make stuff up. Or as Sen. Lindsey Graham puts it:
I don't believe any American should give a whole lot of credibility to anything Julian Assange says. No American should be duped by him.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) January 4, 2017
Assange's steady release of Podesta's emails in the campaign's final months kept "Clinton" and "email" in the news, and while there were no bombshells, the emails did lead to a gunman shooting up a D.C. pizza restaurant. WikiLeaks did not publish any emails from Trump's campaign or the Republican Party. Peter Weber