Donald Trump constantly praised WikiLeaks during the campaign. Now it appears his campaign asked WikiLeaks to help him win.
"WikiLeaks! I love WikiLeaks!"
It was a common refrain from Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign. PolitiFact counted 137 instances of Trump praising WikiLeaks on the trail.
When WikiLeaks released private emails that had been stolen from both the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s team, Trump and his campaign — and his right-wing media enablers on Fox — praised the organization and openly begged for more.
But that's not all they did.
It turns out that Cambridge Analytica, the data company that worked for Trump's campaign, reached out to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about locating and releasing 30,000 undisclosed Clinton emails. That's according to Alexander Nix, who heads the data firm. In 2016, Nix emailed Assange to ask for help and offer guidance in locating and releasing Clinton emails that the Trump campaign believed would be damaging to her and thus helpful to him.
In other words, according to Nix, the Trump campaign wanted to collude with WikiLeaks to locate and steal private emails.
Assange confirmed in a statement to The Daily Beast that he had received such a request from the data firm, but he claims that he denied the request and wanted to continue working independently.
Trump made no secret of his hope that some foreign entity — WikiLeaks or even Russia itself — would work on Trump's behalf to damage Clinton.
During a press conference in July 2016, Trump infamously said, "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing." He then suggested Russia "will probably be rewarded mightily by our press."
Since then, it has been revealed that top members of Trump's campaign, including his son Donald Trump Jr., in fact met with Russian operatives to seek dirt on Clinton. The request for help from Russia was not merely an off-the-cuff joke, as Trump later claimed.
Now it seems Trump's love and praise for WikiLeaks was not merely campaign trail talk either. In fact, congressional investigations into collusion between the campaign and Russia have been closing in on the data firm Cambridge Analytics — owned Robert Mercer, a major donor to both Trump and to Steve Bannon's efforts — in recent weeks. One person close to the investigation called that particular line of questioning "fruitful."
Trump and his allies continue to insist that his campaign did nothing wrong and that all accusations of collusion with foreign entities are a "hoax." But months of investigations and a growing mountain of evidence suggests the very opposite.