Hillary Clinton says she cannot remember whether she ever joked about killing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during her tenure as secretary of state.
The former secretary of state was in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, campaigning when a journalist asked her about a report that she once mentioned sending a drone to kill Mr. Assange, who has used the Ecuadorean embassy in London as refuge for five years while fighting extradition to Sweden over sexual assault charges.
His organization, which has leaked millions of sensitive documents since its inception in 2007, riled the administrations of both President Obama and George W. Bush.
“I don’t know anything about what [WikiLeaks] is talking about, and I don’t recall any joke. It would have been a joke had it been said, but I don’t recall that,” Mrs. Clinton said of a report published Sunday by the website TruePundit.
The website claimed, citing “State Department sources,” that Mrs. Clinton said “Can’t we just drone this guy?” in November 2010 as WikiLeaks was preparing to release 250,000 secret U.S. cables.
Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager was asked about the report Monday with a local Fox affiliate in Washington, D.C., but he too sidestepped the question and blamed it all on politics.
“I’m reticent to comment on anything that the Wikileaks people have said. They’ve made a lot of accusations in the past,” Robby Mook said, Mediaite reported.
“Donald Trump and his allies are trying to do everything they can to change the debate here right now … They got to find some way to change this up and they’re trying to do that by doubling down on conspiracy theories,” Mr. Mook said.
Mr. Assange has been a persistent thorn in Mrs. Clinton’s side. His organization released approximately 20,000 emails from seven accounts belonging to DNC staffers in July, and he claims another batch of documents will be leaked prior to the Nov. 8 presidential election.
Critics say he colludes with Russia to undermine trust in America’s political institutions, a charge he has consistently denied.
“The American liberal press, in falling over themselves to defend Hillary Clinton, are erecting a demon that is going to put nooses around everyone’s necks as soon as she wins the election, which is almost certainly what she’s going to do,” Mr. Assange told the New York Times on Aug. 31 during one of the newspaper’s Facebook Live events.