In July 2017, Donald Trump Jr. took it upon himself to present the public with possibly the first evidence of Trump campaign collusion with Russia — although Robert Mueller and the Senate will make the final determinations on that matter — when he released his own emails that led up to his July 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians. He had aimed to secure dirt on Hillary Clinton, and Bloomberg recently alleged that he offered a quid pro quo in exchange for the information. Now, The Atlantic makes more claims against Trump Jr.’s activity during the campaign by describing purported messages between the eldest Trump son and WikiLeaks.
U.S. intelligence has already reported that there was “conclusive” evidence that Russia hacked DNC emails and provided them to WikiLeaks. So, there’s some Russia-related business at hand, if The Atlantic report is true. The outlet reports that Julian Assange’s brainchild repeatedly contacted Trump Jr., and he mostly ignored them. Yet he replied at times, including a September 2016 exchange where WikiLeaks sent a message containing a password to an anti-Trump PAC (with “Putin” in the domain name), and Trump Jr. responded, “Off the record I don’t know who that is, but I’ll ask around. Thanks.”
The outlet then alleges that that Trump Jr. followed up on this information with several Trump campaign members:
When Wikileaks first reached out to Trump Jr. about putintrump.org, Trump Jr. followed up on his promise to “ask around.” According to a source familiar with the congressional investigations into Russian interference with the 2016 campaign, who requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, on the same day that Trump Jr. received the first message from Wikileaks, he emailed other senior officials with the Trump campaign, including Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Brad Parscale, and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, telling them Wikileaks had made contact. Kushner then forwarded the email to campaign communications staffer Hope Hicks.
The Atlantic notes that, although the correspondence was largely “one-sided,” it persisted for 10 months, and Don Jr. never rebuffed WikiLeaks. In October 2016, candidate Trump stood up at a campaign rally, waved papers around (while referring to stolen DNC emails), and shouted, “I love WikiLeaks!”
And of course, The Atlantic obtained the messages between Don Jr. and WikiLeaks as part of a leak after Don Jr.’s lawyers handed them over to Congress. In addition, the outlet notes that WikiLeaks also asked Don Jr. if he’d send them his father’s tax returns. Well, at least we know that didn’t happen, right? Also, they apparently asked whether Don Jr. would arrange for Julian Assange to be named ambassador to the U.S. from Australia. Leakers gonna leak, and trolls are gonna troll. Here, it looks like WikiLeaks did both.
UPDATE: Don Jr. has tweeted what he claims is the entire exchange of text messages between himself and WikiLeaks.
In addition, Mike Pence issued a statement ABC News to deny that he was aware of any Don Jr. communication with WikiLeaks.
(Via The Atlantic)