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Why Trump Reversed Himself on WikiLeaks

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Julian Assange waves to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on April 11th, 2019, in London, England.

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump loved WikiLeaks, Julian Assange‘s renegade publishing outfit. “This WikiLeaks stuff is unbelievable,” he said at an October of 2016 rally in Florida; “this WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove,” he fawned in Michigan. His seemingly boundless admiration for Assange’s organization amounted to over 160 mentions of the site throughout campaign season. “Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks,” he told a crowd in Ohio.

For a time, it could have been argued that the president was one of Assange’s most powerful defenders—he even praised Assange for taking on the “very dishonest” American press that Trump so reviles. But that period of admiration came to a decided halt on Thursday, as Assange was escorted out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London by British police, alongside the announcement that the United States government had charged the WikiLeaks publisher with conspiring to hack a government computer as part of the 2010 Chelsea Manning revelations.

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