Stories

Mueller on Trump's praise of WikiLeaks: "Problematic is an understatement"

Asked by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) to react to quotes by President Trump and Donald Trump Jr. during the 2016 campaign praising stolen material published by WikiLeaks, special counsel Robert Mueller responded: "Problematic is an understatement."

Why it matters: Throughout his testimony, Mueller has been reluctant to answer questions that stray outside the contents of his 450-page report. His sharp criticism of Trump's praise of WikiLeaks, which he described as an "hostile intelligence service" whose founder Julian Assange is under indictment, is a rare rebuke of the president.

The exchange:

  • Quigley: "This is Donald Trump, Oct. 10, 2016: 'I love Wikileaks. This Wikileaks stuff is unbelievable. It tells you the inner heart. You got to read it.' Donald Trump, Oct. 12, 2016: 'This Wikileaks is like a treasure trove.' Donald Trump, Oct. 31, 2016: 'Boy, I love reading those Wikileaks.' ... How do you react to it?"
  • Mueller: "Well, problematic is an understatement in terms of giving some hope or boost to what is illegal activity."
  • Rep. Quigley: "And Donald Trump Jr. had direct electronic communications with WikiLeaks. On October 3, 2016, WikiLeaks sent another direct message to Trump Jr., asking 'you guys to help disseminate a link alleging candidate Clinton had advocated a drone to attack Julian Assange.' Trump Jr. responded that he had already done so. Same question. This behavior, at the very least, disturbing?"
  • Mueller: "Disturbing and also subject to investigation."

Go deeper: