One of the Trumpiest soundbites ever, inasmuch as he’s telling a lie which literally everyone knows is a lie and yet he insists on telling it anyway.
Q: "Do you still love Wikileaks?"
President Trump: "I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It’s not my thing." pic.twitter.com/tMwRTjjFmU
— CSPAN (@cspan) April 11, 2019
He mentioned Wikileaks 145 times on the campaign trail in October 2016. Also doesn’t he watch “Hannity” religiously? Sean gave Assange a full hour in primetime two years ago after Wikileaks had helpfully aired the DNC’s and John Podesta’s dirty laundry on Russia’s behalf, then went as far as to invite Assange to guest-host his radio show. For awhile there, in the glow of 2016’s victory, Julian Assange was by and large a quite respectable populist figure. Now he’s been unpersoned by the populist-in-chief.
In fairness to Trump, he’s not the first guy to experience a partisan-fueled change of heart about Assange:
Trump called for Assange to face the death penalty (2010), then "loved" Wikileaks (2016), but now "knows nothing about WikiLeaks" (today). Obviously. But my favorite Assange flip? This Olbermann classic: pic.twitter.com/4hpDC3gwib
— Michael C Moynihan (@mcmoynihan) April 11, 2019
Leftists went from fans to foes when Wikileaks switched from undermining American foreign policy circa 2010 to undermining Hillary Clinton in 2016, righties did the opposite. Although Trump’s actually had two changes of heart about Assange over time, in keeping with his habit of reversals and counter-reversals. Nine years ago, when Assange first started publishing the documents stolen by Chelsea Manning, he reacted like any good nationalist would:
Speaking on camera to preview Brian Kilmeade’s radio show, the Fox News anchor brought up the topic of WikiLeaks. At the time, WikiLeaks had published hundreds of thousands of classified documents and videos that were leaked to the organization by Pfc. Chelsea Manning, known at the time as Pfc. Bradley Manning.
“I think it’s disgraceful, I think there should be like death penalty or something,” Trump said during the quick exchange uncovered online by CNN’s KFile.
“I love Wikileaks!” he said six years later, when Assange was publishing Podesta’s inbox. Search Trump’s Twitter feed for references to the group and you’ll find plenty more touting them from late 2016. Today he knows nothing about them. The most stalwart anti-Trumpers would blame that on either dementia or a propensity to lie pathologically but the truth is plainer: The man’s ethics are and always have been situational. Wikileaks was bad for America in 2010, good for America (read: good for him) in 2016, and now they’ve sort of outlived their political usefulness and are being made to answer for their crimes by Trump’s DOJ. Result: “Death penalty” in 2010, “I love Wikileaks” in 2016, and “I know nothing” today. All he’s really guilty of is stripping away the fake-principled excuses hardcore partisans use to justify their own self-interested switches. Does anyone think Olby would have been baying for Assange’s blood if he had dropped a ton of oppo on Trump in 2016 instead of Hillary?
Here’s TPM remembering sweeter days from the Trump/Assange romance.
Trump's WikiLeaks love pic.twitter.com/I3cElSqhOD
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) April 11, 2019