What Is Julian Assange Doing?

What Is Julian Assange Doing?

Attempting to figure out what’s going on in Julian Assange’s head is a daily struggle. After moving into the Ecuadorean embassy in London seven years ago to avoid extradition to Sweden on since-dropped sexual assault allegations, the 46-year-old has remained holed up there with Twitter as his main means of communication. From the embassy’s confines, he’s kept himself busy leaking a slew of hacked DNC emails, CIA exploits, and generally inserting himself into world events in which he plays no part.

Now, it looks like Assange is doubling down on his attempt to join the Trump clan.

Photo: Getty

A few hours after Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out an absurdly incriminating email chain in an apparent attempt to pre-empt a New York Times story about those emails, Assange tweeted this:

Today’s humble brag follows a slightly more veiled attempt at currying favour with the Trump administration that occurred earlier in the week. On Sunday, the WikiLeaks Twitter account replied to a Trump tweet and suggested the president name Julian Assange as head of “an impenetrable Cyber Security unit” the president claimed he discussed forming with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Aside from the fact that Assange is not an American citizen, this idea seems pretty ludicrous in light of the fact that Trump’s Justice Department is reportedly considering bringing criminal charges against Assange and WikiLeaks for releasing classified government information. Even still, WikiLeaks — and probably Assange himself, who’s often the operator of the account — tweeted:

This is also really weird. On one hand, Assange seems to be implying that he knew about the Times scoop well before the paper published its very damning story. On the other hand, Sunday’s tweet implies that Assange is begging Trump Jr. to bring him and, presumably, WikiLeaks into the president’s inner sanctum, a disgustingly powerful collection of President Trump’s allies and confidants. What an odd thing for Assange, a self-described “information activist” who claims he has dedicated his life to exposing the truth, to do.

What strange allies he’d find in Donald Trump and his closest aides, a group of people who simply can’t stop lying about issues central to the world’s most prominent democracy. What a weird coda for Assange’s already controversial career.

Then again, if you’ve paid much attention to Assange and his curious character in recent years, these attempts to cosy up to Trump make total sense. Assange, you might say, loves him some anarchy. And as Risk, the new documentary about WikiLeaks and its founder, paints in painful detail, Assange is obsessed with power. He wants to be close to those who have it, and he wants to stockpile it for himself, however he’s able to do that.

There’s a scene in Risk that shows Assange considering how his organisation could influence the 2016 presidential election. It appears that the then-accused rapist (the charges were subsequently dropped) was literally looking for ways to tamper with the democratic process, not necessarily because he favoured one candidate over the other but because he could. Eventually, by publishing a slew of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential campaign, Assange did.

Where does one go from there? According to Assange’s recent behaviour, you try to advise the leaders who you helped tilt the election towards. It remains unclear whether the leaked DNC emails that WikiLeaks released came from the Russian government. Assange insists they didn’t, although he also refuses to reveal his sources.