Monday’s news that Donald Trump Jr. had traded private messages with Wikileaks over Twitter during the campaign prompted Vice President Mike Pence to backpedal slightly on his past claims about Wikileaks’ contacts with the Trump campaign.
On Monday evening, the vice president’s office said it wasn’t “aware” of any communication at the time.
“The vice president was never aware of anyone associated with the campaign being in contact with Wikileaks,” Pence’s press secretary Alyssa Farah said Monday evening in a statement obtained by TPM. “He first learned of this news from a published report earlier tonight.”
However, in October 2016, Pence flatly denied that the Trump campaign had any connection to Wikileaks after it released emails and documents containing damaging information about then-candidate Hillary Clinton.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Pence said on “Fox and Friends” that October, denying any ties to the hostile group.
Trump Jr. exchanged private messages with Wikileaks beginning in September 2016. While many of the messages sent to Trump Jr.’s Twitter account went unanswered, he did occasionally respond and appeared to act on some of Wikileaks’ requests, according to a report from the Atlantic.
Trump Jr. alerted several high level campaign officials about his communication with Wikileaks, but neither Pence nor any of his top aides received the messages, the Atlantic reported.
Pence’s pushback this week isn’t the first time the vice president has denied knowledge of Trump Jr.’s communications with Russian officials. When the President’s son this summer released a chain of emails that explained what led to a meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer in June 2016, Pence said he wasn’t aware of that meeting either.