Hillary Clinton and Wikileaks Update: Is Julian Assange’s ‘October Surprise’ More Smoke Than Fire?

For weeks, Julian Assange of WikiLeaks fame has been promising an “October surprise” with the release of further emails and other information he claims to have regarding Hillary Clinton. His highly anticipated news conference on Tuesday was supposed to bring Hillary Clinton crashing down and end her presidential hopes.

But as the AP reports the event, there was nothing but a boring review of all the wonderful things Wikileaks has done over the last few years and the amazing releases yet to come. In short, it was long on promise and short on proof. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised.

Despite the fact that the WikiLeaks founder has released information in the past that proved somewhat damaging to the Clinton campaign, his recent appearances on Fox News to promote this “upcoming release” seemed suspiciously like an attempt to influence public opinion about Clinton without actually releasing anything. So is it “surprising” that the big surprise in October turned out to be the release of nothing whatsoever?

As noted by Time, information released just before the Democratic Party National Convention had an impact – to an extent – on Hillary Clinton ally Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Schultz stepped down as head of the Democratic National Committee amid allegations – supported by WikiLeaks releases – that she had improperly tilted the Democratic primary process in favor of Hillary Clinton.

But the incident did little to derail the Clinton campaign. In fact, Clinton came out of the Democratic National Convention with a sizable bump in the polls. While this was hardly a surprise, this post-convention bump was greatly enhanced by a series of missteps and outrageous statements by Donald Trump.

Hillary Clinton looks up to audience members as she leaves a campaign event.
Hillary Clinton looks up to audience members as she leaves a campaign event. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Most of the time, Assange implies that his principal reason for wanting to release this information about Clinton is his desire to remove corruption – and people engaged in secretive machinations – from government. However, Julian Assange can hardly be considered objective when it comes to Hillary Clinton.

It seems quite likely – even obvious following the non-results of the Tuesday press conference – that Assange resents the efforts that Hillary Clinton made a Secretary of State to have him extradited to the United States for trial, despite the fact that as Secretary of State, this was her duty. In fact, Assange has flatly admitted that he wants Hillary Clinton to lose the election. He has even admitted that he is taking steps – such as his never-to-be-revealed October surprise – to make sure that this happens.

Assange recently went so far as to imply that the Democrats – and Clinton in particular – were involved in the murder of a young Democratic National Committee staffer named Seth Rich. WikiLeaks even offered a $20,000 reward for information that might be used to implicate Clinton. But of course, the Tuesday news conference gave us no proof of this outrageous accusation.

Moreover, Seth Rich was just 27 and had only worked for the Democrats for two years in a lower-level position. So it seems highly unlikely that Murder Incorporated – which is apparently what Assange believes the Democratic Party to be – had reason to kill Rich.

As a nice counterpoint to the wild-eyed nature of Assange’s conspiracy theories, it seems likely that the source for the information that WikiLeaks/Assange released about Schultz and will – supposedly – release about Clinton in October is Russian intelligence. As reported by The Washington Post, security experts hired by the Democratic Party have concluded that the break-ins into their emails were carried out from Russia.

Assange’s response to such accusations of Russian involvement in his information releases is to suggest that Clinton and the Democratic Party are engaging in “McCarthyite-style anti-Russian hysteria.” This accusation is itself a surprise and extremely ironic, given that one of the tactics used by Sen. McCarthy in his hearings was to threaten to release damaging information about individuals or groups.

Senator Joseph McCarthy (right), circa 1954.
Senator Joseph McCarthy (right), circa 1954. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Often, McCarthy in reality had no such information and was just trying to influence public opinion. The question is whether Assange is now trying to do the same thing with his clearly fictional “October surprise.” Does he really have information damaging to Clinton, or is he trying to create smoke where there is no fire to influence the election polls and outcome? After all, if Assange actually had such damning information about Hillary Clinton, why wouldn’t he have released it Tuesday?

[Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images]