Administration

Trump on WikiLeaks after Assange arrest: ‘It’s not my thing’

President Trump on Thursday sought to distance himself from WikiLeaks after founder Julian Assange’s arrest in London, even though he praised the group during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It’s not my thing,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office when asked if he still loves the organization.

The president said he has “been seeing what’s happened with Assange” but added that what happens next is up to Attorney General William Barr.

{mosads}Assange could be extradited from the United Kingdom in order to face a computer hacking charge in the U.S.

Trump repeatedly professed his affinity for WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign, when it published emails that were stolen from Democrats by Russian hackers as part of Moscow’s effort to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

“I love WikiLeaks,” Trump said at an October 2016 rally in Pennsylvania.

“Getting off the plane, they were just announcing new WikiLeaks, and I wanted to stay there, but I didn’t want to keep you waiting,” he said four days before Election Day that year. “Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks.”

Trump mentioned WikiLeaks 145 times in the final month of the campaign alone, according to NBC News.

A Trump campaign official ordered longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone to contact WikiLeaks about the hacked Democratic emails, according to federal prosecutors. Stone was charged with lying, obstruction and witness tampering by special counsel Robert Mueller during his probe into Russia’s election interference in 2016.

Trump’s comments came hours after Assange was arrested in the U.K. capital. The WikiLeaks founder had been staying at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 before the country’s government withdrew his asylum this week.

Soon after his arrest, the Justice Department unsealed an indictment accusing Assange of conspiring with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to break a password in order to access classified government materials.

The charge was related to the 2010 release of U.S. diplomatic cables and classified information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not the 2016 disclosures.

Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Robert Mueller Roger Stone William Barr

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