Donald Trump no longer loves WikiLeaks. In fact, the president so expressively does not love the organization that he endorsed the idea of arresting founder Julian Assange on Friday. Which is weird because Trump literally announced, “I love WikiLeaks” at a rally in October. Trump now swears the world misunderstood him.
The Associated Press published a transcript today of a lengthy interview with Donald Trump, and boy, is it just chock full of doozies. But the about-face on WikiLeaks stands out. Answering a question about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ new idea to arrest Assange and Trump’s past support of WikiLeaks in general, the president said:
When Wikileaks came out ... never heard of Wikileaks, never heard of it. When Wikileaks came out, all I was just saying is, “Well, look at all this information here, this is pretty good stuff.” …
I found it very interesting when I read this stuff and I said, “Wow.” It was just a figure of speech. I said, “Well, look at this. It’s good reading.”
The AP reporter asked Trump to clarify whether he supported Assange, and the president tried:
No, I don’t support or unsupport. It was just information.
Okay so, what kind of dressing do you like with your word salad? “Unsupport” is not a word, but that’s not even the most baffling part of this response. When WikiLeaks “came out,” Trump did not say, “This is pretty good stuff.” Trump said, “Wikileaks! I love WikiLeaks.”
Here’s a video:
Trump says he loved WikiLeaks when the information helped him during the election. However, back in 2010, he told Fox News anchor Brian Kilmeade that WikiLeaks was “disgraceful” and suggested that “there should be a death penalty or something” for what WikiLeaks has done. At that point in time, of course, condemning WikiLeaks for publishing classified information was the popular thing to do, so it’s no surprise that Trump latched on.
What Trump is doing now is something he loves to do. The president is revising history, readjusting the narrative so that it better fits whatever popular position he thinks he should be taking. It’s the political equivalent of lying to your mother and then insisting you meant something else when she calls you out for lying. It’s something toddlers do.
The president is not technically a toddler. Donald Trump is a 70-year-old billionaire and former reality TV star who, perhaps with the help of WikiLeaks, won the 2016 presidential election. He’s also the commander-in-chief who appears to be leading the United States headlong into a deadly war with North Korea. So while a few weeks ago it may have seemed surreal but silly to admit that a cheeseburger of a man somehow managed to take the nation’s highest office and bark the same brand of lies we’ve been hearing for years, the reality we face today is somewhat more terrifying. It’s no longer okay for President Trump to change his mind when it’s convenient for his own ego. Donald Trump’s ego is the least of this country’s concerns.
Just over a month ago, some of the top newspapers and columnists in the US argued that Trump had arrived at a credibility crisis, developing a habit of lying to the American people that would certainly prove catastrophic in the event that the president faced an actual crisis. What, for instance, what would we think if Trump said, “We’re sending an armada to North Korea to set Kim Jong-Un straight!” If Trump had lied about everything else that’s going on in America, why would we trust him to go to war?
Turns out, Trump did just that. He did lie and say that the US sent an armada to North Korea, and he got caught in that lie. Now, with his just-kidding answer to the WikiLeaks question, the president’s proven that he’s not finished lying. Trump seems at home distorting narratives to fit any particular moment, and it’s downright horrifying.
Our noodle-headed president believes that he can edit history. Know what? History comes at you fast, and when the body count starts stacking up, Trump will face a reality that’s not shaped by soundbites or TV ratings. We can only hope that he’ll grapple with the gravity of his position then. Nearly 100 days in, he’s still grappling with the fact that being president is hard. Let’s just hope that Trump will soon realize that fighting wars is even harder.