Robert Mueller on Wednesday condemned President Donald Trump’s repeated praise of WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential election. According to the former special counsel, Trump’s public embrace of the organization—even as it was regularly releasing Hillary Clinton campaign emails hacked by the Russian government—was tantamount to promoting “illegal activity.”
“Problematic is an understatement, in terms of what it displays, in terms of giving some hope or some boost to what is and should be illegal activity,” Mueller said after Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) read direct statements from Trump expressing admiration for WikiLeaks. Mueller also said he agreed with Mike Pompeo, who as CIA director in 2017 called Wikileaks a “hostile intelligence service.” Pompeo is now Trump’s secretary of State.
It was a striking moment from the former special counsel, who had spent the bulk of his back-to-back congressional hearings on Wednesday largely repeating the findings of his lengthy report. On this matter, however, Mueller appeared to offer a personal indictment of Trump’s conduct.
The exchange represented a clear win for Democrats, who have been seeking to effectively demonstrate how the Trump campaign had eagerly sought to benefit from Russia’s assistance. In his opening statement, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) directly hit Trump for this very issue.
“Your investigation determined that the Trump campaign—including Trump himself—knew that a foreign power was intervening in our election and welcomed it, built Russian meddling into their strategy, and used it,” Schiff said to Mueller.
"I love Wikileaks!" Rep. Mike Quigley reads several Donald Trump tweets about how much Trump loves Wikileaks, asking Robert Mueller, "Do any of these quotes disturb you?"
— ABC News (@ABC) July 24, 2019