Trump Jr. messaged with WikiLeaks during campaign

Trump Jr. messaged with WikiLeaks during campaign

President’s son releases communications after report suggests he secretly liaised with group that published Clinton’s emails

In this October 5, 2017, photo, Donald Trump Jr. speaks during a fundraiser for Faulkner University in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
In this October 5, 2017, photo, Donald Trump Jr. speaks during a fundraiser for Faulkner University in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

President Donald Trump’s oldest son communicated with the Twitter account behind WikiLeaks, exchanging direct messages during the 2016 election about leaked emails from Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign and other issues, The Atlantic reported Monday.

The report details several direct messages between WikiLeaks and Donald Trump Jr., including requests to push out tweets highlighting the website’s work. The website released stolen e-mail messages from top Democrats during the campaign.

Democrats swiftly reacted to the report, saying Trump Jr. should provide more information. Democratic congressman Adam Schiff said the report “demonstrates once again a willingness by the highest levels of the Trump campaign to accept foreign assistance.”

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the Senate Judiciary Committee should subpoena the documents and force Trump Jr. to testify.

Following the report Trump Jr. released a series of direct messages he received from the Twitter account behind the WikiLeaks website, including his responses to the communications.

In the exchanges, WikiLeaks asks Trump Jr. to push its leaks and to release his father’s tax returns to the site.

The revelations are sure to increase calls in Congress to have Trump Jr. testify publicly as part of several committee probes into Russian interference in the 2016 election. And they add a new element to the investigations that have been probing for months whether Trump’s campaign colluded in any way with the Russian government.

In an intelligence assessment released last January, the NSA, CIA and FBI concluded that Russian military intelligence provided hacked information from the DNC and “senior Democratic officials” to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks has denied that Russia was the source of emails it released, including those from Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.

The documents released by Trump Jr. show him responding three times, at one point agreeing to “ask around” about a political action committee that WikiLeaks had mentioned. He also asked the site about a rumor about an upcoming leak.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stands on the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, February 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)

The messages released by Trump Jr. began in September 2016 and ran through July.

Trump Jr clearly sought to downplay Atlantic magazine’s article.

Although the exchanges were mostly one-sided and mostly ignored by Trump Jr, the president’s son did not push back against the website even though it had already released data that benefited Russian interests.

Trump Jr.’s lawyers had released the exchanges to three congressional committees that have been investigating Russian intervention in the 2016 election and whether there were any links to Trump’s campaign.

In a statement, Trump Jr.’s lawyer said thousands of documents had been turned over to the committees.

“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,” said Alan Futerfas.

Futerfas didn’t say which forum he was referring to, but Trump Jr. was interviewed behind closed doors by Senate Judiciary Committee staff in September. A person familiar with that meeting said the private Twitter messages were discussed. The person declined to be identified because the transcript of that interview hasn’t been made public.

In his own tweets, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the group’s messages were all part of its promotional efforts.

“WikiLeaks can be very effective at convincing even high-profile people that it is their interest to promote links to its publications,” he said.

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