WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump knew WikiLeaks until he didn’t.
With his government seeking to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Trump is drawing a blank on a hacking organization he praised to the rafters during the 2016 campaign because of the discomfort it caused his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
It was among a number of factual faux pas and flips in his rhetoric over the past week.
A few months after asserting a need for legal immigrants, Trump declared the country “full” and he also seemed to change the grounds upon which he is refusing to release his taxes: It’s not because he can’t, but because he doesn’t want to.
And with the release of more of the special counsel’s report imminent, Trump kept up his refrain that Robert Mueller exonerated him despite Mueller’s explicit statement that he did not.
TRUMP, asked if he still “loves” WikiLeaks: “I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It’s not my thing.” — remarks Thursday with South Korea’s president.
THE FACTS: WikiLeaks was very much Trump’s thing in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign, when candidate Trump showered praise on the anti-secrecy organization night after night.
On the same October day that the “Access Hollywood” tape emerged, revealing that Trump had bragged in 2005 about groping women, WikiLeaks began releasing damaging emails from Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta. Trump and his allies seized on the dumps and weaponized them.
“WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks,” Trump said in Pennsylvania.
“This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove,” Trump said in Michigan.
“Boy, I love reading WikiLeaks,” Trump said in Ohio.
All told, Trump extolled WikiLeaks more than 100 times, and a poster of Assange hung backstage at the Republican’s debate war room. At no point from a rally stage did Trump express any misgivings about how WikiLeaks obtained the emails from the Clinton campaign or about the accusations of stealing sensitive U.S. government information, which led to the charges against Assange on Thursday. The U.S. is seeking Assange’s extradition from Britain.