WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Fox News' Sean Hannity in an exclusive interview that a teenager could have hacked into Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's computer and retrieved damaging email messages that the website published during last year's election campaign.
"We published several ... emails which show Podesta responding to a phishing email," Assange said during the first part of the interview, which aired on "Hannity" Tuesday night. "Podesta gave out that his password was the word ‘password’. His own staff said this email that you’ve received, this is totally legitimate. So, this is something ... a 14-year-old kid could have hacked Podesta that way."
Assange also claimed that Clinton herself made "almost no attempt" to keep her private emails safe from potentially hostile states during her tenure as secretary of state.
"Now, was she trying to keep them secure from Republicans? Probably," Assange said. "But in terms of [nation-] states, almost no attempt."
Hannity interviewed Assange at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. The Australia native has been holed up there for five years battling extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges, which Assange denies.
WikiLeaks published more than 50,000 emails detailing dubious practices at the Clinton Foundation, top journalists working closely with the Clinton campaign, key Clinton aides speaking derisively of Catholics and a top Democratic National Committee (DNC) official providing debate questions to Clinton in advance.
Assange has repeatedly denied claims by the Obama administration that Russia was behind the cyberattacks that exposed the DNC and Podesta emails. Assange also has repeatedly insisted that WikiLeaks' source for the emails was not the Russian government or any "state party," and said the outgoing administration was attempting to "delegitimize" President-Elect Donald Trump by making those claims.
In the first part of the interview, Assange criticized a Dec. 29 joint analysis of the cyberattacks by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. After the report was released, President Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two Russian compounds.
"On the top [of the report], there is a disclaimer, saying … there is no guarantee that any of this information is accurate," Assange told Hannity. "There’s nothing in that report that says that any information was given to us. Nothing."
Assange also criticized the mainstream media for what he called the "ethical corruption" displayed in the Podesta emails.
"The editor of the New York Times ... has come out and said that he would do the same thing as WikiLeaks, [that] if they had obtained that information, they would have published it," Assange said. "Now, unfortunately, I don’t believe that is true."
Assange added that he doubted that partisan sympathy explained the cozy relationship between Podesta and reporters covering the Clinton campaign.
"It’s more like, ‘You rub my back, I’ll rub yours. I’ll give you information, you’ll come to my – I’ll invite you to my child’s christening or my next big party.’"
Assange said that the website would not have hesitated to publish embarrassing information about Trump if they had received it.
"There’s no sources coming out through other journalists … and saying, 'We gave WikiLeaks all this information about Donald Trump or … Vladimir Putin and you know what? They didn’t publish it.' No one has come out and said that," Assange said. "If they did, that would hurt our reputation for trust for our sources."
The WikiLeaks founder also warned Democrats that criticizing the website for publishing the emails was a "stupid maneuver."
"It’s the same reason why they lost the election, which is instead of focusing on substance, they focused on other things [like] this attempt to say how outrageous it is that the American public received true information before an election," Assange said. "The public doesn’t buy that. They want as much true information as possible."