November 16, 2018

How the Trump Administration Stepped Up Pursuit of WikiLeaks’s Assange

Featuring Andrea Kendall-Taylor

Source: The New York Times

Journalists Julian E. Barnes, Adam Goldman, Charlie Savage

Soon after he took over as C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo privately told lawmakers about a new target for American spies: Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.

Intent on finding out more about Mr. Assange’s dealings with Russian intelligence, the C.I.A. began last year to conduct traditional espionage against the organization, according to American officials. At the same time, federal law enforcement officials were reconsidering Mr. Assange’s designation as a journalist and debating whether to charge him with a crime.

Mr. Pompeo and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions unleashed an aggressive campaign against Mr. Assange, reversing an Obama-era view of WikiLeaks as a journalistic entity. For more than a year, the nation’s spies and investigators sought to learn about Mr. Assange and his ties to Russia as senior administration officials came to believe he was in league with Moscow.

Their work culminated in prosecutors secretly filing charges this summer against Mr. Assange, which were inadvertently revealed in an unrelated court filing and confirmed on Friday by a person familiar with the inquiry. Taken together, the C.I.A. spying and the Justice Department’s targeting of Mr. Assange represented a remarkable shift by both the American government and President Trump, who repeatedly lauded WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign for its releases of Democratic emails, stolen by Russian agents, that damaged his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Read the full article and more in The New York Times.

  • Andrea Kendall-Taylor

    Senior Fellow and Director, Transatlantic Security Program

    Andrea Kendall-Taylor is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). She works on national security ch...