Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks exchanged private Twitter messages during, after election campaign
The messages, which The Atlantic reports were obtained from congressional investigators, show WikiLeaks making an array of requests that include asking the Trump campaign to “push” a negative story about Hillary Clinton, and suggesting that then-President-elect Trump press Australia to appoint Wikileaks founder Julian Assange ambassador to the U.S.
Trump Jr. ignored most of WikiLeaks’ messages, but appears to have occasionally heeded to its requests.
WATCH: Donald Trump Jr., WikiLeaks exchanged private Twitter messages during election campaign
The correspondence reportedly began on Sept. 20, 2016, when WikiLeaks reached out to Trump Jr. with the following message:
A PAC run anti-Trump site putintrump.org is about to launch. The PAC is a recycled pro-Iraq war PAC. We have guessed the password. It is “putintrump.” See “About” for who is behind it. Any comments?
Trump Jr. responded, “Off the record I don’t know who that is, but I’ll ask around.”
He then informed key Trump campaign figures, including Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, that WikiLeaks had made contact, reports The Atlantic, citing a source familiar with the investigation into election meddling by Russia.
Then on Oct. 3, 2016, WikiLeaks wrote, “Hiya, it’d be great if you guys could comment on/push this story,” attaching a quote about Clinton wanting to “just drone” Assange.
“Already did that earlier today,” Trump Jr. replied. “It’s amazing what she can get away with.”
Less than two weeks later, WikiLeaks suggested to Trump Jr. that his father tweet out a link to an online database allowing web users to peruse emails that hackers had pinched from Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta.
Fifteen minutes later, Trump tweeted the following:
Two days later, Trump Jr. tweeted out the link WikiLeaks had provided.
At this point, Trump Jr. stopped responding to WikiLeaks’ messages, but that didn’t stop them from coming.
On Oct. 21, 2016, WikiLeaks reached out to request Trump’s tax returns, even offering a reason why the publication of the tax returns would benefit the Trump campaign.
“If we publish them it will dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality,” read the message. “That means that the vast amount of stuff that we are publishing on Clinton will have much higher impact, because it won’t be perceived as coming from a ‘pro-Trump’ ‘pro-Russia’ source.”
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In December, after Trump won the U.S. presidential election, WikiLeaks messaged Trump Jr. to suggest that “it would be real easy and helpful for your dad to suggest that Australia appoint Assange ambassador to DC.”
The message stated that while Australia’s government wouldn’t actually agree to the appointment, the mere act of Trump requesting it would “send the right signals to Australia, UK + Sweden to start following the law and stop bending it to ingratiate themselves with the Clintons.”
Trump Jr. remained silent, but WikiLeaks again reached out in July 2017, after Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya began to be reported in the media.
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“Hi Don. Sorry to hear about your problems,” WikiLeaks began, before asking if Trump Jr. would be willing to share the emails through which the meeting was set up.
Again, WikiLeaks suggested it would be in Trump Jr.’s interest if the emails were published by WikiLeaks rather than mainstream news outlets.
Trump Jr. didn’t respond, but later shared the emails himself on Twitter.
The communications published by The Atlantic ended there.
On Monday, Trump Jr. published his chain of messages with WikiLeaks on Twitter, accusing a congressional committee member of “selectively” leaking information.
His post was retweeted by the official WikiLeaks Twitter account, which said it offered “missing context.”
Assange also took to Twitter to state that he “cannot confirm” the messages between Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks. But he stopped short of denying them, suggesting that even if WikiLeaks did communicate with Trump Jr., it did so to manipulate him for the sake of transparency.
Democrats didn’t hesitate to comment on the revelations.
Rep. Adam Schiff, a ranking member of the House intelligence committee, tweeted that the messages, if true, “represent more secret communications between the Trump campaign and cut-outs for the Kremlin… it also demonstrates again a willingness by the highest levels of the Trump campaign to accept foreign assistance.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tweeted that the communications “seem to indicate Pres. Trump’s son was actively engaged and may have coordinated strategy with a known agent of the Russian government, WikiLeaks.”
Blumenthal called for a subpoena for Trump Jr.’s communications with WikiLeaks “and any other Russian agents,” and for the president’s eldest son to be made to publicly testify.