Nov 13, 2017

Trump Jr. corresponded with WikiLeaks ahead of election

Photo: Brynn Anderson / AP

WikiLeaks sent Donald Trump Jr. a series of Twitter direct messages between September of last year and this past summer, with the president's son responding to a few of the messages sent ahead of November's election, the Atlantic's Julia Ioffe reports. The messages were turned over by Trump Jr.'s lawyers to congressional investigators.

Why it matters: It was WikiLeaks that published emails stolen by Russian actors from Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee. In the messages to Trump Jr., WikiLeaks seems to be offering to help the Trump campaign, while seeking help in countering the perception it was aligned with Russia.

First contact, Sep. 20
  • Wikileaks sent Trump Jr. a direct message that an anti-Trump PAC was about to be formed and asking for comment.
  • Trump Jr.'s response the following morning, "Off the record I don't know who that is, but I'll ask around."
Another exchange, Oct. 3
  • WikiLeaks: "Hiya, it'd be great if you guys could comment on/push this story." The message included a link to Hillary Clinton's comment that she'd like to "drone" Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder.
  • Trump Jr: "Already did that earlier today. It's amazing what she can get away with."
  • Trump Jr., minutes later: "What's behind this Wednesday leak I keep reading about?" The message came after Roger Stone had tweeted that a damaging leak was coming.
WikiLeaks reaches out again, Oct. 12
  • WikiLeaks: "Hey Donald, great to see you and your dad talking about our publications. Strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us (a link was included). There's many great stories the press are missing and we're sure some of your follows will find it. Btw we just released Podesta Emails Part 4."
  • Trump Jr.'s response: He did not message back, but tweeted out the link two days later.
Later messages
  • WikiLeaks suggested Trump Jr. leak them a year of his dad's tax returns, in part to get ahead of any controversy and also to nullify perceptions that WikiLeaks was a "'pro-Trump' 'pro-Russia' source."
  • WikiLeaks contacted Trump Jr. on election day saying they hoped Trump Sr. would not concede if he lost.
  • WikiLeaks asked Trump Jr. to tweet support for Assange becoming Australia's ambassador to the U.S.
  • After news of the Trump Jr./Russia meeting at Trump Tower emerged, WikiLeaks said they were "sorry to hear about your problems," and requested the emails that led up to the meeting, contending publication on WikiLeaks would be better than in the Times. Trump Jr. ultimately published the emails himself hours later.
From Trump Jr.'s lawyers

"Over the last several months, we have worked cooperatively with each of the committees and have voluntarily turned over thousands of documents in response to their requests. Putting aside the question as to why or by whom such documents, provided to Congress under promises of confidentiality, have been selectively leaked, we can say with confidence that we have no concerns about these documents and any questions raised about them have been easily answered in the appropriate forum."

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