The whistleblower website’s editor-in-chief made the claim during a Friday interview on “Real Time with Bill Maher” that centered on Wikileaks’ publication of Democratic National Committee emails last month.
Watch the interview here:
“So it looks like you are working with a bad actor, Russia, to put your thumb on the scale and basically fuck with the one person who stands in the way of us being ruled by Donald Trump,” the comedian added.
Assange initially declined to answer a question whether his organization was also going to target the GOP presidential candidate, as he spoke via a satellite feed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Instead, he diverted attention to a $1 million donation Maher made to a Clinton-affiliated organization in 2012. But Maher then asked him directly, “Why don’t you hack into Donald Trump’s tax returns?” To which Assange admitted: “Well, we’re working on it.” He offered up no further information.
Wikileaks moved to clarify Assange’s hacking comment on Saturday. It posted on its official Twitter account that it wasn’t really “working on” hacking into Trump’s tax returns. “Claim is a joke from a comedy show,” the post said, adding that Wikileaks is “working on” encouraging whistleblowers.
Assange, whose organization publishes original documents obtained from hackers, leakers and anonymous sources, clashed with Maher several times in the 10-minute interview.
One flashpoint was over whether the DNC leaks were “fair game” and if their “smoking gun” was a plot to smear Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the former Democratic presidential candidate.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
This article has been updated to include clarification from Wikileaks on Assange’s hacking comment.