Vice President Mike Pence says President Trump repeatedly saying in 2016 that he loves WikiLeaks was “in no way an endorsement” of Julian Assange, as Trump attempts to distance himself from the WikiLeaks founder after his arrest.
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.
Pence told CNN’s Dana Bash that Trump’s 2016 declaration, “Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks,” and his public comments urging Russia to hack then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s emails was not a direct endorsement of the anti-secrecy organization operated by Assange.
— The Hill (@thehill) April 12, 2019
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.”
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.”
While speaking to a crowd in Pennsylvania in 2016, Trump declared: “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.