FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Trump’s Wikileaks Flip-Flop

During an interview with the Associated Press on April 23, President Donald Trump was asked about Wikileaks and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent announcement that the United States will seek charges against Wikileaks.

“When Wikileaks came out … never heard of Wikileaks, never heard of it. When Wikileakscame out, all I was just saying is, ‘Well, look at all this information here, this is pretty good stuff,'” Trump said, but refusing to suggest he supports the organization. “No, I don’t support or unsupport. It was just information. They shouldn’t have allowed it to get out.”

Though he acknowledged the importance of the information Wikileaks released, he distanced himself from casting judgment on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement the Department of Justice will seek to prosecute Wikileaks. “I am not involved in that decision, but if Jeff Sessions wants to do it, it’s OK with me. I didn’t know about that decision, but if they want to do it, it’s OK with me,” Trump said. This rhetoric is a stark contrast from his comments about Wikileaks during an October 2016 campaign rally. “I love Wikileaks,” Trump said. “It’s amazing how nothing is secret today when you talk about the Internet.”

The announcement from Sessions has sparked controversy both from Wikileaks supporters and supporters of the free press, because these kinds of charges are a dangerous precipice to the government prosecuting media publishers for publishing information the government doesn’t like and eliminating the freedom of the press.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo alleged in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington that Wikileaks “directed Chelsea Manning to intercept specific secret information, and it overwhelmingly focuses on the United States.” Pompeo also asserted that Wikileaks is “often abetted by state actors like Russia,” though he cited or provided no evidence for either accusations. These have been cited as the likely avenues in which Attorney General Sessions will seek charges against Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange, under Section 793(e) of the Espionage Act, which broadly could be used against first amendment rights without having to offer an proof Wikileaks was involved at all in obtaining the documents its leaked.

In Obama’s last press conference as President he said, “I haven’t commented on WikiLeaks generally. The conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking were not conclusive as to whether WikiLeaks was witting or not in being the conduit through which we heard about the DNC e-mails that were leaked.”

Sessions affirmed one of his top priorities is prosecuting Wikileaks. “We are going to step up our effort and already are stepping up our efforts on all leaks,” he said on April 20. “This is a matter that’s gone beyond anything I’m aware of. We have professionals that have been in the security business of the United States for many years that are shocked by the number of leaks and some of them are quite serious. So yes, it is a priority. We’ve already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail.” In a following interview with CNN, Sessions refused to respond to a question as to whetherWikileaks’ charges would open the door to prosecute other media outlets that have published leaked information. “That’s speculative, and I’m not able to comment on that,” Sessions said.

Wikileaks has been under U.S. investigation since 2010, when it released with cooperation from several large media outlets, thousands of classified cables from US embassies leaked by Chelsea Manning, whose sentence was commuted by Obama before he left office. Though public opinion on Wikileaks has waned given the release of emails from the DNC and ClintonCampaign Manager John Podesta that embarrassed the Democratic Party, prosecutingWikileaks for publishing leaked information sets a dangerous precedent for other media outlets who have done the same.

More articles by:

Michael Sainato’s writing has appeared in the Guardian, Miami Herald, Baltimore Sun, Denver Post, Buffalo News, the Hill, Alternet, and several other publications . Follow him on twitter: @MSainat1

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
August 21, 2019
Craig Collins
Endangered Species Act: A Failure Worth Fighting For?
Colin Todhunter
Offering Choice But Delivering Tyranny: the Corporate Capture of Agriculture
Michael Welton
That Couldn’t Be True: Restorying and Reconciliation
John Feffer
‘Slowbalization’: Is the Slowing Global Economy a Boon or Bane?
Johnny Hazard
In Protest Against Police Raping Spree, Women Burn Their Station in Mexico City.
Tom Engelhardt
2084: Orwell Revisited in the Age of Trump
Binoy Kampmark
Condescension and Climate Change: Australia and the Failure of the Pacific Islands Forum
Kenn Orphan – Phil Rockstroh
The Dead Letter Office of Capitalist Imperium: a Poverty of Mundus Imaginalis 
George Wuerthner
The Forest Service Puts Ranchers Ahead of Grizzlies (and the Public Interest)
Stephen Martin
Geopolitics of Arse and Elbow, with Apologies to Schopenhauer.
Gary Lindorff
The Smiling Turtle
August 20, 2019
James Bovard
America’s Forgotten Bullshit Bombing of Serbia
Peter Bolton
Biden’s Complicity in Obama’s Toxic Legacy
James Phillips
Calm and Conflict: a Dispatch From Nicaragua
Karl Grossman
Einstein’s Atomic Regrets
Colter Louwerse
Kushner’s Threat to Palestine: An Interview with Norman Finkelstein
Nyla Ali Khan
Jammu and Kashmir: the Legitimacy of Article 370
Dean Baker
The Mythology of the Stock Market
Daniel Warner
Is Hong Kong Important? For Whom?
Frederick B. Mills
Monroeism is the Other Side of Jim Crow, the Side Facing South
Binoy Kampmark
God, Guns and Video Games
John Kendall Hawkins
Toni Morrison: Beloved or Belovéd?
Martin Billheimer
A Clerk’s Guide to the Unspectacular, 1914
Elliot Sperber
On the 10-Year Treasury Bonds 
August 19, 2019
John Davis
The Isle of White: a Tale of the Have-Lots Versus the Have-Nots
John O'Kane
Supreme Nihilism: the El Paso Shooter’s Manifesto
Robert Fisk
If Chinese Tanks Take Hong Kong, Who’ll be Surprised?
Ipek S. Burnett
White Terror: Toni Morrison on the Construct of Racism
Arshad Khan
India’s Mangled Economy
Howard Lisnoff
The Proud Boys Take Over the Streets of Portland, Oregon
Steven Krichbaum
Put an End to the Endless War Inflicted Upon Our National Forests
Cal Winslow
A Brief History of Harlan County, USA
Jim Goodman
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is Just Part of a Loathsome Administration
Brian Horejsi
Bears’ Lives Undervalued
Thomas Knapp
Lung Disease Outbreak: First Casualties of the War on Vaping?
Susie Day
Dear Guys Who Got Arrested for Throwing Water on NYPD Cops
Weekend Edition
August 16, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Uncle Sam was Born Lethal
Jennifer Matsui
La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Rob Urie
Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity
Stuart A. Newman
The Biotech-Industrial Complex Gets Ready to Define What is Human
Nick Alexandrov
Prevention Through Deterrence: The Strategy Shared by the El Paso Shooter and the U.S. Border Patrol
Jeffrey St. Clair
The First Dambuster: a Coyote Tale
Eric Draitser
“Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)
Nick Pemberton
Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?
Jim Kavanagh
Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail