Tulsi Gabbard, 2020 Presidential candidate, posted on Facebook today speaking out against the U.S. government’s treatment of WikiLeaks, saying it would have a “chilling effect” on investigative reporting. This was a followup to previous comments she’s made to a similar effect.
Today she wrote on Facebook:
If the government can change the designation of Wikileaks from being a news organization (Obama Administration’s designation of Wikileaks) to a ‘hostile intelligence service’ (Trump Administration’s designation), then any entity – online and offline – is in danger of being designated a hostile intelligence agency if they carry out investigative reporting that the US government or a particular administration considers to be hostile to itself. This will have a chilling effect on investigative reporting of powerful government agencies or officials, including the president, intelligence agencies, etc. This is a serious breach of our constitutional freedoms and every American – Democrat, Republican or Independent – must stand up against it.”
You can see her Facebook post and the responses below.
This is a followup to similar statements she’s made about WikiLeaks before. During an event in New Hampshire, she said the stolen information that WikiLeaks published had “spurred necessary change.” During her Concord meet and greet she said: “Obviously the information that has been put out has exposed a lot of things that have been happening that the American people were not aware of and have spurred some necessary change there.”
Her response was an answer to a question about President Donald Trump’s administration seeking to prosecute Julian Assange. Just this week, Chelsea Manning was jailed for not answering questions from a grand jury about Assange. She refused to testify before a grand jury investigation regarding WikiLeaks, AP shared. She said she objected to the secrecy of the grand jury process and had already shared everything that she knows. Because prosecutors granted her immunity for her testimony, she said she couldn’t invoke the Fifth Amendment to defend her right not to speak.
The emails from the DNC shared by WikiLeaks did indeed ultimately bring about some changes, including lesser power to superdelegates in 2020. Donna Brazile, former DNC chairwoman, has said that the DNC primary in 2016 was “rigged” against Bernie Sanders. Brazile herself had even leaked some debate questions to Hillary Clinton before her debate with Sanders. Brazile has said that the DNC worked closely with Clinton’s campaign in 2016 because it needed the money, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz let Clinton’s campaign help cover the DNC’s debt in exchange for some level of control, the Miami Herald reported. The DNC is supposed to be impartial during Democratic presidential primaries, but Brazile said that was not the case.
In July 2016, Wasserman Schultz stepped down as chair of the DNC after WikiLeaks published DNC emails that showed the organization strongly favored Clinton over Sanders during the primary. Brazile briefly served as interim chair before Tom Perez took over.
When DWS resigned, many supporters said the resignation was not enough. Bernie Sanders had demanded her resignation after nearly 20,000 DNC emails were released by WikiLeaks that showed she and others in the DNC had a clear bias against Sanders.
Sanders himself said that he believed Debbie Wasserman Schultz should resign:
I asked and demanded Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation many, many months ago and I state that again. I don’t think she is qualified to be the chair of the DNC. Not only for these awful emails which revealed the prejudice of the DNC, but also because we need a party that reaches out to working people and young people and I don’t think her leadership style is doing that.”
However, DWS was allowed to resign after the 2016 Convention, which angered some. Meanwhile, Clinton praised DWS and gave her an honorary position on her campaign.
One of the emails that WikiLeaks leaked showed a letter from Darnell Strom and Michael Kives to Tulsi Gabbard, saying they were very disappointed that she had resigned from the DNC to endorse Bernie Sanders. The email read in part: “For you to endorse a man who has spent almost 40 years in public office with very few accomplishments, doesn’t fall in line with what we previously thought of you. Hillary Clinton will be our party’s nominee and you standing on ceremony to support the sinking Bernie Sanders ship is disrespectful to Hillary Clinton. A woman who has spent the vast majority of her life in public service and working on behalf of women, families, and the underserved. You have called both myself and Michael Kives before about helping your campaign raise money, we no longer trust your judgement so will not be raising money for your campaign…”
Recent reports have indicated that the U.S. may be considering prosecuting Julian Assange.