By Jonah Bennett
GOP Sen. Tom Cotton appeared Wednesday on MSNBC to criticize those who uncritically believe Julian Assange’s claim that Russia was not involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee or John Podesta’s emails.
While Cotton hedged by saying he wasn’t ready to come to a conclusion without a full report from the U.S. intelligence community, at the same time, he trusts the community’s preliminary findings of Russian involvement much more than he trusts Assange’s word on the matter, The Washington Examiner reports.
“I have a lot more faith in our intelligence officers serving around the world and their experiences than I do in Julian Assange, I’ll tell you that much,” Cotton said.
Cotton implied that the reason intelligence officers don’t get the same sort of respect and trust as servicemembers is because they don’t sport uniforms and avoid public attention.
“Intelligence officers are like military personnel, they just don’t work in public and they don’t wear uniforms when they walk through airports, so they don’t get the respect they deserve.”
WikiLeaks founder Assange gave an interview with Fox News Tuesday night, in which he stated the source of the Podesta emails was not a state actor. Moreover, Assange also criticized the U.S. joint intelligence report released on Dec. 29, which ties Russia to cyberattacks on U.S. political institutions and led to the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats.
“On the top [of the report], there is a disclaimer, saying … there is no guarantee that any of this information is accurate,” Assange said on Fox News. “There’s nothing in that report that says that any information was given to us. Nothing.”
Although Cotton didn’t explicitly mention Trump, his remarks could be seen as a jab, as following the Assange interview, Trump seized on Assange’s statement that Russia was not involved in the Podesta email hack.
“Assange… said Russians did not give him the info!” Trump tweeted out.
U.S. intelligence agencies have claimed that Russia was to some extent involved in the attacks directed against the Democratic Party and Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair.
These agencies also claim that Russia interfered for the express purpose of pushing the election in favor of Trump, but they have yet to produce actual evidence.