Former CIA Director and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denied what he called “crappy reporting” from Yahoo News reporter Michael Isikoff and others this week after the outlet alleged that intelligence officials within the Trump administration openly discussed kidnapping or assassinating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
“I couldn’t tell you who they have as their sources, but those sources didn’t know what we were doing,” Pompeo told “The Glenn Beck Program” Monday.
The former Trump official added that “there are many stories out there now about how the president and I were engaged in things that were crazy,” including a story about how “there was an effort to drop a nuclear weapon on China in the last weeks of the administration.”
“This story is of that same ilk,” he explained.
The Yahoo News report claimed that “senior officials inside the CIA and the Trump administration” discussed killing Assange, “going so far as to request ‘sketches’ or ‘options’ for how to assassinate him” — one scenario allegedly detailed a London shootout with Russian agents who supposedly wanted Assange for themselves.
“Discussions over kidnapping or killing Assange occurred ‘at the highest levels’ of the Trump administration, said a former senior counterintelligence official. ‘There seemed to be no boundaries,'” the report stated.
Since its founding in 2006, WikiLeaks has gained infamous notoriety as a major publisher of secret leaked or stolen government information. Its founder and leader, Assange, is currently housed in a London prison as courts decide on a U.S. request for extradition based on charges that he violated the Espionage Act.
In a tweet link to the interview, Yahoo News D.C. Bureau Chief Sharon Weinberger said, “Pompeo did not respond to numerous requests for comment made over many weeks. Here are his comments on our investigation.”
While rejecting the Yahoo News report’s specific allegations, Pompeo did acknowledge that he and his team were actively seeking ways to prevent bad actors from stealing sensitive U.S. government information.
“We were very worried about the fact that we had bad actors who were stealing really, really sensitive material from the United States, and I make no apologies for the fact that we in the administration were working diligently to make sure that we were able to protect this important, sensitive information from whether it was cyber actors in Russia or the Chinese military or anyone,” he said.
Pompeo noted that bad actors weren’t just stealing “commercial stuff like intellectual property theft, but real national security secrets.”
In 2017, Pompeo described WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence entity.” He used the same terminology in his conversation with Beck.
“They weren’t engaged in even crappy reporting like Isikoff does,” the former intelligence official quipped. “They were engaged in active efforts to steal secrets themselves and pay others to do the same in a way that violated … U.S. law.”
“I’m all about a big, bold, strong First Amendment, but these folks were acting in ways that were deeply inconsistent with that,” he concluded.