The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

President Trump loved WikiLeaks. White House leaks? Not so much.

Trump was a big fan of Wikileaks – but he doesn't like leaks from his own administration (Video: Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

President Trump was a big fan of leaked — even stolen — information on his campaign rivals during the 2016 election. He called the dump of Clinton campaign emails released by WikiLeaks “a treasure trove,” and cited them repeatedly on the campaign trail. And he urged Russia to look for more than 30,000 of Clinton's emails from her private server that were never handed over to the Justice Department in a remarkable news conference in July.

But now that he's in office, he's not a fan of leaks at all.

It's perhaps an unsurprising turnaround — after all, it was politically convenient to cite WikiLeaks emails during the election, while leaks from within his administration have cast him and his team as incompetent and flailing.

Trump says that the leaks coming from his administration are “illegal” and “classified” in a way the Clinton emails weren't, although whoever hacked into the Clinton campaign's email server surely committed a crime. And many of the leaks coming from the Trump White House aren't exactly “classified information,” like the stories of infighting between aides, leaked drafts of executive orders and memos, and potential policies the White House is considering.

Trump cited stories about his calls with several world leaders, including the Prime Minister of Australia, as leaks that he wants to investigate — but it's not even clear that information about those calls came from Trump administration sources.

And while there's surely an argument to be made about compartmentalizing information that is critical to national security, little such information has made its way to the media so far in his administration.

Trump simultaneously claims that the leaks coming out of his administration are “fake news” and promises to catch “criminal leakers,” which raises a question: Are the leaks “fake news,” lacking valuable information, or are they worthy of investigation and possible prosecution?

It's a stark but perhaps unsurprising turnaround from someone who used to cite leaked information about his opponents almost daily.