President Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and Wikileaks exchanged private messages on Twitter during the 2016 presidential campaign, The Atlantic reported on Monday.
According to the report, the Wikileaks account was the main driver of the conversation, and many of its messages to Trump Jr. went unanswered. However, at times the President’s son did respond, and it appears he even occasionally acted on the messages Wikileaks sent him, according to the Atlantic’s report.
The final Wikileaks message to Trump Jr. in the Atlantic report was a July 2017 message to the President’s son asking him to leak to them emails about his July 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Kremlin-affiliated figures, a story that the New York Times had recently broken. Trump Jr. didn’t respond, according to the report, but a few hours later posted the emails publicly to Twitter himself.
Later that day, Assange tweeted that he had contacted Trump Jr. to urge him to publish the emails.
Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for Trump Jr., told the Atlantic that President’s son had “worked cooperatively” with the various congressional investigations into Russian election meddling and had “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,” Futerfas told the Atlantic.
In an initial message to Trump Jr. sent on September 20, 2016, the Wikileaks account flagged an anti-Trump website that was about to launch, putintrump.org, and asked Trump Jr. to comment, according to the Atlantic.
Trump Jr. responded the morning after, saying he would “ask around.” A source told the Atlantic that on that day he also emailed a number of top campaign officials — including Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Brad Parscale and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner — to tell them Wikileaks had reached out.
Last month, CNN asked Conway about reports of the outreach that Cambridge Analytica — a data firm that worked with the Trump campaign — made to Wikileaks to assist with their Hillary Clinton email dumps. (Assange had said he turned down the firm’s offer.)
Conway said she wasn’t aware of it and that as campaign manager she “couldn’t be bothered with that.”
Wikileaks’ private messages to Trump Jr. continued in October 2016 and through the election, the Atlantic reported. At times, Wikileaks made requests of Trump Jr. — such as an October 21 suggestion that the campaign turn over to the website the elder Trump’s tax returns — that went unrequited. According to the Atlantic report, the Wikileaks account also recommended that Trump challenge the election if he lost, and even, in December, asked that Trump push for Assange to be the Australian ambassador the U.S.
These and other messages did not get a response from Trump Jr. — but on other occasions, he messaged back.
In October, when the account asked him to promote a comment Wikileaks claimed Clinton had made about droning Julian Assange, Trump Jr. indicated he already had and said it was “amazing what she can get away with,” according to the Atlantic
He followed up that day asking what Wikileaks about a potential “Wednesday leak” he kept “reading about” — perhaps referring to a tweet from Roger Stone the day prior, the Atlantic reported.
Another message sent from Wikileaks to Trump Jr. on October 12 praised the elder Trump’s mentioning of Wikileaks and asked that he include a specific link to their collections of emails when he tweeted about the website, the Atlantic reported.
Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. So dishonest! Rigged system!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2016
Trump Jr. didn’t message back, but he tweeted the link himself, according to the Atlantic.
“At no point during the 10-month correspondence does Trump, Jr. rebuff Wikileaks, which had published stolen documents and was already observed to be releasing information that benefited Russian interests,” the Atlantic said.