President Donald Trump has consistently shifted his opinions on WikiLeaks and the organization’s founder, Julian Assange.
During the 2016 election, he declared “I love WikiLeaks!” But that support has grown cold over the past few days as Assange was arrested in Great Britain after the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he was staying, expelled him.
And Vice President Mike Pence played defense for his boss during a CNN interview which aired on Friday morning.
Asked if Trump’s attitude towards WikiLeaks has changed, Pence said, “I think the president always — as you and the media do — always welcomes information. But that was in no way an endorsement.”
He went on to call WikiLeaks “an organization that we now understand was involved in disseminating classified information about the United States of America.”
— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) April 12, 2019
But Trump repeatedly praised the organization on the campaign trail as WikiLeaks released troves of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee that we later learned were hacked. Assange even timed the releases of the emails so that they would be able to do maximum damage to the Democrats and their candidate.
When asked on Thursday if he “still loves WikiLeaks,” Trump did his best to back off the notion, saying, “I know nothing about WikiLeaks, it’s not my thing.” When asked what he thinks should happen to Assange, who is charged with leaking national security secrets, Trump said, “I don’t really have any opinion.”
Assange, who had been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for seven years, could be charged with conspiracy to hack a government computer — an allegation that dates back to 2010. The hacker was also hiding in the embassy trying to wait out rape charges against him in Sweden.
The United States will almost certainly ask for him to be extradited to the States but Assange has said that he will fight an extradition order.