LATE UPDATE 4:42 p.m. ET: CNN on Friday afternoon issued a major correction to a story that incorrectly stated that Donald Trump and top aides received a Sept. 4 2016 email providing them access to hacked documents released by WikiLeaks prior to their publication.
As CNN acknowledged, the email was actually sent on Sept. 14, suggesting that the sender may have simply been pointing the Trump campaign to publicly available documents, rather than providing them with early access to information that could offer them an advantage.
“We have updated our story to include the correct date, and present the proper context for the timing of email,” a statement from CNN’s PR team read.
The correction comes hours after the Washington Post published a report based on a copy of the email obtained by the newspaper’s reporters that contained the correct date. According to the Post story, the email including a link to a “(huge 678 mb) archive of files from the DNC” and a “decryption key” was sent by a man who identified himself as Michael J. Erickson, president of an aviation management company.
The email was among a trove of online communications turned over to congressional investigators by the Trump Organization, and Trump Jr. was questioned about it in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. It noted that DCLeaks.com had also publicized emails from former secretary of state Colin Powell—a development that the press had reported that day, as the Post pointed out.
It was sent to Trump Jr., an email address that Trump reportedly seldom used, Trump Organization attorney Michael Cohen, a Gmail account occasionally used by aide Hope Hicks, and several other Trump Organization employees, per the Post report.
Trump Jr.’s attorney, Alan Futerfas, condemned the reporting on the email in comments to the Post, criticizing the House Intelligence Committee for allowing details of Trump Jr.’s testimony to be publicized.
“It is profoundly disappointing that members of the House Intelligence Committee would deliberately leak a document, with the misleading suggestion that the information was not public, when they know that there is not a scintilla of evidence that Mr. Trump Jr. read or responded to the email,” Futerfas said, adding that the leak “undermines the credibility” of the probe.
Trump Jr. sent out a series of outraged tweets criticizing CNN for reporting “#fakenews” and asking for a “full retraction.”
Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. were emailed a decryption key and website address for documents hacked by WikiLeaks in the fall of 2016, CNN reported Friday.
Congressional investigators are seeking to determine whether the Sept. 4 email to the Trumps, which was turned over by the Trump Organization, is the latest example of entities or individuals associated with WikiLeaks trying to boost the GOP candidate’s campaign and tarnish Hillary Clinton’s.
Just three weeks after the email was sent, as previously reported, Wikileaks initiated an exchange of direct messages with Trump Jr., who occasionally responded to or acted on the messages the group sent him.
The early September message came from a man who listed his name as “Mike Erickson” and was sent to Trump Jr., his personal assistant, an email address set up for then-candidate Trump, and others at the Trump organization, according to CNN.
It reportedly suggested that recipients could have access to records associated with former Secretary of State Colin Powell, whose hacked emails were leaked 10 days later. CNN reported that a Russian front group was behind that release.
Trump Jr.’s attorney, Alan Futerfas, told CNN that the President’s eldest son did not recall receiving the message and took no action on it.
After the story’s publication, Futerfas issued a statement, reiterating that the team did “not know who Mike Erickson is” and “never responded to the email.”
Congressional investigators are still trying to determine the legitimacy of the email and the identity of the sender.
In the final months of the 2016 race, the Trump campaign openly embraced the data dumps of hacked information from Democratic officials and individuals associated with Hillary Clinton. Trump famously told a crowd at a Pennsylvania rally, “I love WikiLeaks!”
In August 2016, longtime Trump ally Roger Stone claimed he had a secret “back-channel communication” with the group.
And the head of Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that worked with the Trump campaign, reached out to WikiLeaks founded Julian Assange to offer help organizing and promoting emails deleted from Clinton’s personal email server. Assange said he rebuffed that offer.
Correction: An editing error inadvertently attributed the hacking of DNC documents to Wikileaks. We regret the error.
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