Former special counsel Robert Mueller said during congressional testimony Wednesday afternoon that President Trump’s expressed support for WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign was beyond “problematic.”
During Mueller’s appearance before the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic representative Mike Quigley read a number of quotes from Trump in which the president praises WikiLeaks, the site that published internal messages and documents stolen by Russian intelligence from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The server breach is considered to have contributed to Clinton’s election defeat.
“This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove,” Quigley quoted Trump as saying. “Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks.”
“Do any of those quotes disturb you?” the Illinois Democrat asked Mueller.
“‘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 responded.
The former special counsel also said that instances of direct communication between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks are “disturbing and also subject to investigation” but added that he “wouldn’t categorize it with any specificity.”
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee in a report about the conclusions of their own investigation into Russian election meddling also criticized the Trump campaign’s praise for and contacts with WikiLeaks, which they called a “hostile foreign organization,” that is “highly objectionable and inconsistent with U.S. national security interests.”
U.S. intelligence concluded that Russian actors meddled in the 2016 election by hacking the DNC server as well as by spreading divisive propaganda through social media in hopes of disrupting the election and helping Trump beat Clinton.
“Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency,” reads the Intelligence Community’s January 2017 assessment.