John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. CREDIT ANDREW HARNIK, AP
The chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has suggested that Russia hacked his emails to help Donald Trump, and implied that the Trump campaign may have colluded with Russian intelligence over the “criminal hack”.
Thousands of emails sent and received by John Podesta, one of Mrs Clinton’s most senior advisers, have been published by Wikileaks, causing serious headaches for the campaign less than one month from election day.
Mr Podesta has now said the FBI is investigating Russia’s apparent role in the “criminal hack”, and hinted at possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
He said it was a “reasonable conclusion” that the campaign and Roger Stone, a Trump confidante, had received “advanced warning” about the hack.
Mr Stone, a self-professed expert in political dirty tricks, has previously said he was in contact with Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, and warned repeatedly about “devastating” future leaks.
Weeks after discussing his communication with Mr Assange, he threatened to “expose” Mr Podesta.
“Trust me, it will soon be Podesta’s time in the barrel,” Mr Stone said in August.
Mr Podesta claims the hack lays bare Russian efforts to tilt the balance of the US election towards Mr Trump.
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“We can’t be certain why the Russian government seems to be trying to interfere… it may just be policy, it may just be that they found somebody that adopted lock stock and barrel the Putin foreign policy,” he said, adding that Mr Trump’s alleged business ties to Russia were another possible motivation.
“I’ve been involved in politics for nearly five decades, and this definitely is the first campaign that I’ve been involved with in which I’ve had to tangle with Russian Intelligence agencies,” he said.
US intelligence agencies last week accused Russia of leaking emails from the Democratic National Committee. The more recent leak of Mr Podesta’s emails is also widely believed to have been carried out by Russia.
However, Mr Trump has said it remains to be seen whether Russia is involved in any hacking whatsoever, saying during Sunday’s debate: “Maybe there is no hacking.”
Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, called claims Russia was interfering in the US election “ridiculous”.
Mr Lavrov said there was not a “single fact, a single proof” of Russian intervention, and took a swipe at President Barack Obama as he issued the denial.
“It’s flattering, of course, to get this kind of attention- for a regional power, as President Obama called us some time ago,” he told CNN.
Mr Trump has complained that the US media is paying insufficient attention to the contents of Mr Podesta’s emails, which have been overshadowed by the ongoing furore surrounding his past comments about, and actions toward, women.
“Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks,” he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “So dishonest! Rigged system!”
Tags: Donald Trump, FBI is investigating Russia’s apparent role in the “criminal hack”, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, John Podesta, Podesta’s emails, Russia, Russian Hackers, Russian intelligence, WikiLeaks