UPDATE – 1:30pm EST: The Washington Post corrects the CNN report discussed below to reflect that the email in question was actually dated September 14, 2016, which is the day after WikiLeaks dumped the documents in question onto the internet — meaning that Don Jr. would have only been offered an encryption key for documents that everyone could already access.
Donald Trump Jr., who recently testified on Russia in closed door congressional testimony, and his emails are back in the news again. He made headlines last year for releasing his own emails that led up to his Trump Tower meeting with Russians. And recently, The Atlantic unveiled purported messages between the Don Jr. and WikiLeaks. At the time, the correspondence didn’t seem very notable, but CNN has a new report discussing an email (revealed to Congress) that shows more of what Julian Assange’s brainchild offered to the Trump campaign … beyond trolling the eldest Trump son for his dad’s tax returns.
CNN details an email, which they say has been described by multiple reputable sources, that offered Don Jr. “a decryption key and website address for hacked WikiLeaks documents.” The email was sent in September 2016, about a month before candidate Trump referred to hacked Clinton campaign emails while waving papers at a campaign rally and shouting, “I love WikiLeaks!” Whether or not the email was actually from WikiLeaks seems less important than all the synchronicity at hand, especially when it comes to what the message offered:
Congressional investigators are trying to ascertain whether the individual who sent the September email is legitimate and whether it shows additional efforts by WikiLeaks to connect with Trump’s son and others on the Trump campaign. The email also indicated that the Trump campaign could access records from former Secretary of State Colin Powell, whose hacked emails were made public by a Russian front group 10 days later.
The email, which was described to CNN by multiple sources and verified by Trump Jr.’s attorney, came from someone who listed his name as “Mike Erickson.” It was addressed to Trump, Trump Jr., Trump Jr.’s personal assistant and others, and turned over to Congress as part of the documents provided by the Trump Organization.
Again, CNN notes that no one knows if a “legitimate” offer or encryption key existed within the email, which was also sent to Donald Trump himself and some other Trump Organization figures. However, it seems that Trump told congressional investigators that he never remembered receiving it, even though it was in the trove of documents uncovered by the Russia probe. Shortly after the email was sent, Clinton campaign emails began circulating online in an apparent leak of WikiLeaks-acquired documents.
While this could all be smoke with no fire, it’s still worth remembering that U.S. intelligence leaders determined that “conclusive” evidence existed for Russia hacking DNC emails and giving them to WikiLeaks, so CNN’s report may be useful in piecing together where Congress is with the Russia probe. And it must also be noted that Don Jr. previously tweeted what he claims is the whole exchange of messages between WikiLeaks and himself, but if this CNN report is true, there was much more up for grabs.