New documents reveal that Donald Trump Jr. was in touch with WikiLeaks for nearly a year — and the Trump campaign knew all about it.
On Veterans Day weekend, Donald Trump doubled down on his attacks against the Russia investigation by claiming that Putin told him he had “nothing to do with” interference in the 2016 presidential election.
But a bombshell trove of emails obtained by the Atlantic reveal that Trump’s own son was in contact with WikiLeaks — an organization that played a key role in Russia’s influence operation — for nearly an entire year:
The messages, obtained by The Atlantic, were also turned over by Trump Jr.’s lawyers to congressional investigators. They are part of a long—and largely one-sided—correspondence between WikiLeaks and the president’s son that continued until at least July 2017. The messages show WikiLeaks, a radical transparency organization that the American intelligence community believes was chosen by the Russian government to disseminate the information it had hacked, actively soliciting Trump Jr.’s cooperation.
This in and of itself is incredible in its sheer brazenness, but Trump Jr. took it one step further.
According to an anonymous source speaking to the Atlantic, “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 conversations between WikiLeaks and Trump Jr. are incredibly damning.
In one conversation, WikiLeaks urged Trump Jr. to have his father tweet out links to the hacked emails of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta — emails that forensic evidence proves were stolen by Russian hackers. Trump tweeted about the Podesta emails 15 minutes later.
In another, WikiLeaks asked if they could publish Trump’s tax returns, because it would “improve the perception of our impartiality,” and “the vast amount of stuff that we are publishing on Clinton will have much higher impact, because it won’t be perceived as coming from a ‘pro-Trump’ ‘pro-Russia’ source.”
WikiLeaks even asked Trump Jr. on Nov. 8, 2016, to have his father “contest” the election results as “rigged” if he lost — something he had repeatedly threatened to do — and to pressure Australia to name WikiLeaks’ international fugitive founder Julian Assange as their ambassador to the United States.
The idea that Trump Jr. not only had these conversations, but actually relayed the details of them to key Trump campaign advisers — none of whom apparently found anything wrong with what was going on — is mind-boggling.
These documents not only reveal the utter cluelessness of Trump Jr., they also put the lie yet again to any claim on the part of Trump and his associates that there was no attempt to collude with Russia. His own son was doing it openly — and his campaign let it happen.
Every time the American people learn more about the Trump campaign’s contact with hostile foreign actors, it raises more questions. It is time to get answers — and accountability.