Donald Trump Jr. shared several messages Monday that he exchanged during the 2016 campaign with WikiLeaks, the organization that promotes transparency by publishing leaked and secret material.
Trump Jr. shared the messages via his Twitter feed hours after The Atlantic published a story revealing the existence of the correspondence. “How ironic!” that “one of the congressional committees” chose to “selectively leak” the messages between himself and WikiLeaks, Trump Jr. wrote.
The Atlantic said WikiLeaks communicated with Trump Jr. in a series of direct messages from the organization’s Twitter account and that Trump Jr.’s lawyers turned the messages over to congressional investigators looking into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. WikiLeaks continued to message Trump Jr. until July 2017, but there is no evidence Trump Jr. responded to any of them after October 2016.
American intelligence analysts believe the Russians used WikiLeaks to publish hacked information about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. The organization’s founder, Julian Assange, has denied the allegations.
“WikiLeaks made a series of increasingly bold requests, including asking for Trump’s tax returns, urging the Trump campaign on Election Day to reject the results of the election as rigged, and requesting that the president-elect tell Australia to appoint Julian Assange ambassador to the United States,” The Atlantic reported.
In one of the first exchanges, WikiLeaks told Trump Jr. that it had hacked the website for a new anti-Trump political action committee called putintrump.org that was founded by entrepreneur Rob Glaser.
“Off the record I don’t know who that is, but I’ll ask around,” Trump Jr. responded on Sept. 21, 2016. “Thanks.”
On Oct. 3, 2016, WikiLeaks wrote Trump Jr. asking for “you guys” to promote a story about Hillary Clinton asking, “Can’t we just drone (Julian Assange)?”
“Already did that earlier today,” Trump Jr. responded. “It’s amazing what she can get away with.”
WikiLeaks wrote Trump Jr. again on Oct. 12, 2016, suggesting “your dad” tweet a link to a collection of hacked documents “if he mentions us.” Trump Jr. didn’t reply but 15 minutes later, Donald Trump sent a tweet criticizing the media for not reporting on WikiLeaks’ “incredible information.”
Two days later, Trump Jr. sent a tweet that included WikiLeaks’ suggested link.
On Oct. 21, 2016, WikiLeaks suggested Donald Trump leak his tax returns on its site to control the narrative around the issue. WikiLeaks also said leaking the tax returns would “dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality” and 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.”
When news broke in July about Trump Jr.’s June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, WikiLeaks messaged Trump Jr. and suggested he leak the emails about setting up the meeting to the organization. As with the tax returns, WikiLeaks suggested giving them the documents would help the Trumps control the narrative.
Trump Jr. did not respond to the message, but hours later he shared the emails himself through his Twitter account.
A lawyer for Trump Jr. said the president’s eldest son had no concerns about the messages with WikiLeaks.
“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,” Alan Futerfas, an attorney for Trump Jr., said in a statement. “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.”