Earlier this year, CIA Director Mike Pompeo referred to WikiLeaks as “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.” U.S. intelligence officials also concluded WikiLeaks worked with Russian intelligence officials to release hacked emails from the Democratic National Convention in July 2016.
Well, it turns out the said hostile intelligence service, which parades as a transparency group, was in direct contact with Donald Trump Jr. both during and after the 2016 presidential election. The two communicated over Twitter, according to a report published in the Atlantic, beginning in September last year and continuing until July 2017.
While WikiLeaks mostly initiated the conversation with the president’s eldest son, the latter did sporadically chime in. According to the copy of messages Trump Jr.’s lawyers provided to the congressional investigators investigating if Trump campaign conspired with Russia to sway the results of 2016 election, the communication took place at the time intelligence agencies were looking into WikiLeaks publishing the hacked DNC emails, which authorities believe were hacked through Russian servers.
The correspondence touched on array of topics — including WikiLeaks urging Trump Jr. to release his father's tax returns, and suggested if the real estate mogul loses the election, he should refused to concede and blame media for “rigging” the result.
On one instance, WikiLeaks reportedly informed Trump Jr. they had released new emails from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta. Although Trump Jr. never responded to the message, his father tweeted about it some 15 minutes later.
Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. So dishonest! Rigged system!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2016
A couple of days later, just as then-vice presidential candidate Mike Pence refused the allegations about Trump campaign being in contact with WikiLeaks, Trump Jr. tweeted the link the organization had sent him.
WikiLeaks also thanked Trump Jr. two days after Trump proclaimed, “I love WikiLeaks!” at a campaign event.
“Hey Donald, great to see you and your dad talking about our publications,” @WikiLeaks said on DM.
Following Trump’s unexpected election victory, WikiLeaks wrote to Trump Jr., imploring him to ask his father “to suggest that Australia appoint [Julian] Assange ambassador to DC.”
“They won’t do it but it will send the right signals to Australia, UK + Sweden to start following the law and stop bending it to ingratiate themselves with the Clintons,” read the message.
However, perhaps the most controversial bit from their private message thread was WikiLeaks hacking into a soon-to-be-launched anti-Trump website, putintrump.org, and sharing the details with Trump Jr.
“We have guessed the password,” the agency said. “It is ‘putintrump.’”
Trump Jr. replied to the message:
“Off the record I don’t know who that is, but I’ll ask around.”
Apart from the fact that it was foolish to discuss hacking a website on Twitter’s unencrypted direct messages, people should also bear in mind that stealing a password or using it without authorization violates the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act — which means it was a criminal activity.
Soon after The Atlantic published the report, Trump Jr. posted the screenshots of the said correspondence on Twitter.
Here is the entire chain of messages with @wikileaks (with my whopping 3 responses) which one of the congressional committees has chosen to selectively leak. How ironic! 1/3 pic.twitter.com/SiwTqWtykA— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) November 14, 2017
Well, the most important thing here is not that Trump Jr. only (allegedly) responded thrice, it is the fact they were in constant communication not only in the days leading up to the Election Day but also after Trump secured a victory.
Since the U.S. intelligence agencies believe WikiLeaks worked with the Kremlin the influence the outcome of 2016 presidential election, doesn’t Trump Jr.’s previously undisclosed correspondence with the organization mean Trump campaign indeed colluded with Russia?
It is also important to note, as some social media users pointed out, we will not know the entire story for sure until WikiLeaks releases its copy of the conversations.
It’s worth noting that it is very easy for the sender of a DM to delete it. Only way to be sure that Trump Jr (whose lawyer hasn’t responded to my q about this) published full exchange is for Wikileaks to release its copy. But Assange is now saying WL doesn’t keep those records.— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) November 14, 2017
Online users had a lot to say about the latest revelation involving the eldest Trump son:
To recap Don Jr:— Scott Dworkin (@funder) November 14, 2017
-Did business in Russia since 2005
-Conspired with Kremlin agents
-Conspired with Wikileaks
-Conspired with the campaign
-Spreads fake news
-Lied about all of this publicly
-Knew what he was doing was illegal
-Is a traitor
-Is terrible#TrumpRussia #FireHannity
If WikiLeaks was acting on behalf of Russia or in concert with them, then it appears Don Jr et al were 100 colluding w a foreign government.— Bryan Behar (@bryanbehar) November 14, 2017
Right? What am I missing? Is this as monumental as it seems?
Hi @realDonaldTrump,— PROUD RESISTER 👊 (@ProudResister) November 14, 2017
America just found out your son was secretly communicating w/ Wikileaks.
Smart people realize, Russia & you used Wikileaks as a cut-out to release Hillary’s stolen emails.
Welcome home & get those orange jumpsuits ready!
Russia + Wikileaks + Trump = JAIL
Don Jr-coordinated w/Wikileaks— Scott Dworkin (@funder) November 14, 2017
Roger Stone-coordinated w/Wikileaks
Cambridge Analytica-coordinated w/Wikileaks
Bannon & Kushner-knew Don Jr was in touch w/Wikileaks
Eric Trump-supported Wikileaks
The conspiracy is unraveling.#FireHannity #TrumpRussia
Don Jr's cybercriminal activity with Wikileaks and Russia is treason. Nobody is above the law. Lock him up.— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) November 14, 2017
You're missing the point Don Jr. - the point is you had ANY contact with Wikileaks, agent for Russia, about hacked emails and passed messages to Kushner, Bannon, Conway, Parscale and Hicks. This is interfering with a US election! https://t.co/mSlpcyOJnZ— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) November 14, 2017
One piece of good news today:— Justin Hendrix (@justinhendrix) November 14, 2017
The @DonaldJTrumpJr @wikileaks revelations will help more people realize Donald J. Trump is not the legitimate President of the United States.
Come to the light, my fellow Americans. There is still hope for you.
hey I guess even Wikileaks isn’t above the ol’ “hey influencer friend can you tweet my new article” message— Alexandra Petri (@petridishes) November 14, 2017
Today's News about Don Jr's collaboration with Wikileaks might be the most disturbing thing I have read in my life.— Brian Krassenstein🐬 (@krassenstein) November 14, 2017
This is beyond damning. It shows that pretty much the whole campaign lied about their communication with Wikileaks, while trying to collude w/Russia and Assange
Assange also took to Twitter to respond to the controversy:
I cannot confirm the alleged DM's from @DonaldJTrumpJr to @WikiLeaks. @WikiLeaks does not keep such records and the Atlantic's presentation is edited and clearly does not have the full context. However, even those published by the Atlantic show that: 1/— Julian Assange 🔹 (@JulianAssange) November 13, 2017
Meanwhile, Pence attempted to distance himself from the controversy by saying he was not aware about Trump Jr.’s private correspondence with the agency at all.
“The vice president was never aware of anyone associated with the campaign being in contact with WikiLeaks,” Pence’s Press Secretary Alyssa Farah stated. “He first learned of this news from a published report earlier tonight.”
This is not the first time Trump Jr. has been accused of conspiring with Russia.
Earlier this year, intelligence agencies reported the president’s son met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer at Trump Tower to obtain dirt on his father’s rival, Clinton. The meeting took place right after Trump secured the Republican nomination. The president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign chair Paul Manafort also attended the meeting.
Thumbnail Credits: Reuters, Mark Kauzlarich