President Trump, who often expressed his love of WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign, says following the arrest of Julian Assange on Thursday: "I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It's not my thing." pic.twitter.com/smT8o7La95
— NBC News (@NBCNews) April 11, 2019
Trump today in the Oval Office: "I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It's not my thing."
Flashback to the campaign. Trump: "WikiLeaks. I love WikiLeaks." pic.twitter.com/eYfg5zeySI
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 11, 2019
Trump celebrated WikiLeaks on the election trail, giving them shout-outs 164 times in the last month of the campaign alone. “WikiLeaks – I love WikiLeaks,” he told one rally. He told another “This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove.”
After the election, Trump continued to cite Assange approvingly.
“The dishonest media likes saying that I am in agreement with Julian Assange – wrong,” he tweeted during the presidential transition in January 2017. “I simply state what he states, it is for the people … to make up their own minds as to the truth.”
Roger Stone, a veteran Republican master of political dirty tricks, and a longstanding friend of Trump, was in frequent contact with the Trump campaign about WikiLeaks plans for publishing material damaging to Hillary Clinton. He has claimed he was pretending to be close to Assange to inflate his on importance. But he has called the Australian his “hero”.
The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr was also in contact with WikiLeaks in 2016, and promoted them on Twitter.
Assange’s extradition would lay bare the contradictions in the Trump coalition, which are embodied by the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, who has managed to remain simultaneously a Trump favorite and a traditional Republican foreign policy hawk on Russia.
During the campaign, Pompeo – then a Republican congressman – helped promote Wikileaks publication of Democratic party emails.
“Need further proof that the fix was in from Pres Obama on down? BUSTED: 19,252 Emails from DNC Leaked by WikiLeaks,” he tweeted in July 2016.
On becoming CIA director the next year, however, Pompeo declared it was “time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: a non state, hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors, like Russia.” He called Assange a “narcissist” and “a fraud – a coward hiding behind a screen.” [Continue reading…]
Assange’s alleged crime dates to 2010, when he agreed to help Manning, then a US Army intelligence analyst, “in cracking a password” on Defense Department computers to access a secure network of US government classified documents, according to the indictment.
This allowed Manning to use a different username than her own to log onto the government network. Manning and Assange discussed their ploy in real time, prosecutors said.
Assange had encouraged Manning to get the records, the indictment alleges, and both took steps to obscure Manning’s identity as Wikileaks’ leaker.
The leaked files that underpin Assange’s charge Thursday include the diplomatic cables and the pursuit of Guantanamo Bay detainee records, prosecutors said in the indictment.
Manning had told Assange in March 2010 she was “throwing everything [she had] on JTF GTMO at [Assange] now,” according to Thursday’s indictment. “After this upload, that’s all I really have got left,” Manning said.
“Curious eyes never run dry in my experience,” Assange allegedly replied. [Continue reading…]
Under ordinary criminal law principles, an accomplice or someone who aids and abets a felony can be charged with a crime. Arguably — and of course depending on the facts — someone who coordinates with a leaker to receive and publish unlawfully leaked information could be subject to criminal penalties.
That’s the crime the government says Assange committed. In a news release, the Department of Justice said Thursday that Assange helped Manning crack a password while she was taking information from government servers. If the government can prove that, it looks like a genuine crime of participating in the hacking.
Mere encouragement is a closer call. The Justice Department says that “during an exchange, Manning told Assange that ‘after this upload, that’s all I really have got left.” To which Assange replied, ‘curious eyes never run dry in my experience.’”
The government may say a jury should decide if this is aiding and abetting in the form of encouragement. That’s worrisome. Some forms of encouragement would count as aiding and abetting, but the government should be especially cautious about charging that when free speech rights are in question. [Continue reading…]