House Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Wednesday called WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a “sycophant for Russia,” as Mr. Assange reiterated this week that Russia was not the source for internal communications from Democratic officials during the presidential campaign.
Mr. Ryan told radio host Hugh Hewitt that he really has no opinion on Mr. Assange, “other than I think the guy is a sycophant for Russia.”
“He leaks. He steals data and compromises national security,” said Mr. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican.
Mr. Assange reiterated this week in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity that Russia was not the source behind the internal communications from Democratic officials that WikiLeaks released during the campaign.
In a series of Wednesday morning tweets, President-elect Donald Trump touted Mr. Assange’s recent testimony and questioned why Democratic officials were so “careless” with their communications.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on conclusions from U.S. intelligence that Russia meddled in the presidential campaign through the hacks of Democratic National Committee officials and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
Mr. Ryan was asked if Mr. Trump should be quoting Mr. Assange. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called the WikiLeaks founder a “high-tech terrorist.”
“The last thing I’m going to do is start commenting on every little tweet or Facebook post. That is just not what I do with the president-elect, or when he’s president,” Mr. Ryan said.
Mr. Ryan pointed out that Mr. Trump is slated to get a briefing on Russia on Friday.
“So hopefully he’ll get up to speed on what has been happening and what Russia has or has not done, and he’ll be better informed on that,” he said.