Pence: Trump remarks about DNC hacks was 'never an endorsement' of WikiLeaks

Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePence: Chief Justice Roberts 'has been a disappointment to conservatives' Students at school system Pence called 'forefront' of reopening now in quarantine Presidential debates demonstrate who has what it takes MORE said that President TrumpDonald John TrumpLincoln Project ad dubs Jared Kushner the 'Secretary of Failure' Pence: Chief Justice Roberts 'has been a disappointment to conservatives' Twitter bans Trump campaign until it deletes tweet with COVID-19 misinformation MORE never indicated his support for WikiLeaks or its founder Julian Assange when speaking about the Democratic National Committee hacks during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Pence, speaking in an interview that aired Friday on CNN, condemned Assange following his arrest in London and reports of his possible extradition to the United States for charges of computer hacking.

Speaking with CNN's Dana Bash, the vice president asserted that Trump's favorable comments in 2016 appearing to urge Russia to hack then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPence: Chief Justice Roberts 'has been a disappointment to conservatives' Top federal official says more details coming on foreign election interference The Hill's Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux  MORE's emails was not a direct endorsement of the anti-secrecy organization operated by Assange, which had previously published information on U.S. military operations in the Middle East.

ADVERTISEMENT

Bash said that when Trump was running for president, he "welcomed seeing WikiLeaks and the information that they got from Hillary Clinton" before asking if the president's viewpoint has changed.

"I think the president always, as you in the media do, always welcomes information," Pence told CNN. "But that was in no way an endorsement."

WikiLeaks was most famously known before the 2016 election for its role in publishing documents leaked by former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, including evidence that U.S. forces were involved in the killing of civilians in Iraq in an attack that also killed two Reuters employees.

Pence said in the interview that the documents published by WikiLeaks represented "one of the greatest compromises of classified information in American history."

It "literally put American military personnel at risk," Pence added. "We'll hold him to account in the American justice system."

His comments come despite remarks Trump made at a campaign rally late in the 2016 race, where he told a crowd in Pennsylvania, “Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks.”

“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 at the time.

Manning is currently imprisoned after being jailed for contempt of court in March for refusing to testify against WikiLeaks and Assange. The whistleblower was recently removed from solitary confinement after pressure by lawmakers, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezProgressives soaring after big primary night 'Absolutely incredible': Ocasio-Cortez congratulates Cori Bush on upset victory over Lacy Clay Biden needs to bring religious Americans into the Democratic fold MORE (D-N.Y.).