American intelligence officials in 2017 had identified a suspect in the transfer of thousands of emails and documents from Russia to WikiLeaks, according to a podcast interview with former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper released Friday by Yahoo News. This suspect could have served as the “cut out,” or the person responsible for giving the mother lode of documents to Julian Assange—a move that Russia reportedly felt was necessary to give him “plausible deniability” about the source of the leak and shield him from accusations of collaborating with the Kremlin. “We had a suspect,” Clapper said on the Skullduggery podcast. “I don’t know whether the suspicions we had at the time were conveyed [to Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller] or whether they were validated.” He added that officials were “pretty confident at the time but not sufficient enough to publicize it,” before he left office in January 2017. Although the theory has not been confirmed, Clapper told the podcast that through this “cut out,” Russia transferred 19,000 Democratic National Committee emails and 8,000 documents that Assange later released.