Special counsel Robert Mueller said during Wednesday’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that Donald Trump’s praise for WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential election campaign was “problematic.”
Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., read several examples of Trump’s heaping praise upon WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy website that published stolen emails and documents sent between Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
“This just came out … WikiLeaks. I love WikiLeaks," Quigley read from one of Trump's campaign-trail appearances in October 2016.
"This WikiLeaks stuff is unbelievable," Trump said a couple of days later. "It tells you the inner heart, you gotta read it."
"This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove,” he had said at the end of that month. And in the following days, Trump said, "Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks.”
“Do any of those quotes disturb you?” Quigley asked Mueller.
Mueller struggled to find the words to respond before he said, “Problematic is an understatement, in terms of giving some … hope or some boost to what is and should be illegal activity.”
Democrats on the committee contend that the leaked emails underscore evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Trump’s former political adviser Roger Stone was indicted earlier this year for his involvement in the release of WikiLeaks emails.
In February, Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, testified before Congress that Trump “was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails.”
When WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in April, Trump said, "I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It's not my thing."
Quigley pointed out that Mueller’s report documented that Trump’s son Donald had direct communications with WikiLeaks during his father’s 2016 presidential campaign and attended a secret briefing at Trump Tower along with Paul Manafort and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to get “dirt” on Clinton before the WikiLeaks dump.
“Same question: [Does] this behavior, at the very least, disturb you?” Quigley asked.
“Disturbing and also subject to investigation,” Mueller responded.