WASHINGTON – Donald Trump Jr., the eldest son of the US President, now acknowledges he exchanged messages with WikiLeaks a year ago during the presidential election campaign.
The communications, through direct messages on Twitter, apparently began in the crucial weeks before the election, at the same time that WikiLeaks leaked hacked documents from the Democratic National Committee.
In the messages, few of which Trump Jr. answered, WikiLeaks urged the president’s son to release the hacked documents and suggested that his father challenge the election results if Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton should win.
According to US media, Trump Jr. probably shared those messages with members of Congress investigating the suspected Russian interference in the 2016 elections, before making them public this Monday on his Twitter account.
Trump Jr., in fact, accused a congressional committee of having leaked those communications.
In one of the messages, Trump Jr. showed interest in rumors circulating about WikiLeaks’ new access to documents related to Clinton. “What’s behind this Wednesday leak I keep reading about?” he asked.
To that message on Oct. 3, WikiLeaks sent an answer on Oct. 12: “Hey Donald, great to see you and your dad talking about our publications.”
In the same message, WikiLeaks strongly suggested that President Trump include in his tweets a link to the documents hacked from Clinton’s campaign chief, John Podesta.
Just a few minutes after receiving that message, then-candidate Trump slammed on Twitter the “very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks.”
Two days later, Trump Jr. shared with his followers on Twitter the link provided by WikiLeaks.
Throughout the campaign, the Trump team, including current Vice President Mike Pence, denied any contact with WikiLeaks.
Trump Jr.’s attorney, Alan Futerfas, told The Washington Post this Monday that his client’s messages were “innocuous” and were solely motivated out of curiosity to know what was being published on Wikileaks.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said for his part that he couldn’t confirm the authenticity of the messages since his organization doesn’t retain its Twitter messages, though he added that the communications released by Trump Jr. lacked context.
Trump Jr. had a leading role in another major scandal several months ago when it was learned that during the presidential campaign he met with a Russian attorney who supposedly had damaging information about Clinton.