Thursday December 13th, 2018 11:24AM

Trump Jr. messaged with WikiLeaks during, after campaign

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's oldest son on Monday released a series of private Twitter exchanges between himself and WikiLeaks during and after the 2016 election, including pleas from the website to publicize its leaks.

Donald Trump Jr.'s release of the messages on Twitter cames hours after The Atlantic first reported them. In the exchanges — some of them around the time that the website was releasing the stolen emails from Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman — WikiLeaks praises his father's positive comments about WikiLeaks and asks Trump Jr. to release his father's tax returns to the site.

The revelations are sure to increase calls in Congress to have Trump Jr. testify publicly as part of several committee probes into Russian interference in the 2016 election. And they add a new element to the investigations that have been probing for months whether Trump's campaign colluded in any way with the Russian government.

In an intelligence assessment released last January, the NSA, CIA and FBI concluded that Russian military intelligence provided hacked information from the DNC and "senior Democratic officials" to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks has denied that Russia was the source of emails it released, including those from Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta.

The private messages released by Trump Jr. show him responding to the WikiLeaks account three times, at one point agreeing to "ask around" about a political action committee WikiLeaks had mentioned. He also asked the site about a rumor about an upcoming leak. The messages began in September 2016 and ran through July.

Trump Jr. downplayed the exchanges as he released them.

"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," he tweeted. "How ironic!"

Trump Jr.'s lawyers had released the exchanges to three congressional committees that have been investigating Russian intervention in the 2016 election and whether there were any links to Trump's campaign.

In a statement, Trump Jr.'s lawyer said thousands of documents had been turned over to the committees.

"Putting aside the question as to why or by whom such documents, provided to Congress under promises of confidentiality, have been selectively leaked, we can say with confidence that we have no concerns about these documents and any questions raised about them have been easily answered in the appropriate forum," said Alan Futerfas.

Futerfas didn't say which forum he was referring to, but Trump Jr. was interviewed behind closed doors by Senate Judiciary Committee staff in September. A person familiar with that meeting said the private Twitter messages were discussed. The person declined to be identified because the transcript of that interview hasn't been made public.

In one message dated Oct. 3, 2016, the WikiLeaks Twitter account sent Trump Jr. an article that included critical comments Clinton had made about WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange and said "it'd be great if you guys could comment on/push this story."

Trump Jr. replied: "Already did that earlier today. It's amazing what she can get away with."

Two minutes later, Trump Jr. sent another message: "What's behind this Wednesday leak I keep reading about?"

Longtime Trump associate Roger Stone had tweeted the day before that on Wednesday, "Hillary Clinton is done," referencing WikiLeaks.

The WikiLeaks Twitter account never responded, but days later WikiLeaks started rolling out Podesta's stolen emails. After the emails were released, WikiLeaks sent Trump Jr. a searchable link of the emails. Trump Jr. tweeted that link two days later, on Oct. 14, 2016, The Atlantic noted.

The rest of the messages are one-sided, with WikiLeaks sending Trump Jr. messages through July 2017. They include praise for his father for mentioning them on the campaign trail, a plea to release Trump's taxes to the site and advice on Election Day that Trump should not concede if he lost. One message suggested Trump encourage Australia to appoint Assange as U.S. ambassador.

In July, the Twitter account messaged Trump Jr. to ask him to give the site emails surrounding a meeting he and other Trump associates held with Russians during the campaign. Trump Jr. then released them himself.

Vice President Mike Pence responded quickly to the revelations, issuing a statement through his press secretary that he knew nothing about the situation.

"The vice president was never aware of anyone associated with the campaign being in contact with WikiLeaks," said spokeswoman Alyssa Farah. "He first learned of this news from a published report earlier tonight."

Assange tweeted after The Atlantic report that he couldn't confirm the messages but then defended them after Trump Jr. released them.

"WikiLeaks appears to beguile some people into transparency by convincing them that it is in their interest," Assange tweeted.

Democrats swiftly reacted to the report, saying Trump Jr. should provide more information. California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, says it "demonstrates once again a willingness by the highest levels of the Trump campaign to accept foreign assistance."

Schiff also pointed to Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that worked for Trump's campaign and reached out to WikiLeaks before the election about obtaining emails related to Clinton, according to the company's CEO.

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that panel should subpoena the documents and force Trump Jr. to publicly testify.

"There seems to be no reasonable explanation for these messages," Blumenthal said.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley had said he would call Trump Jr. to publicly testify after the private interview in September. But negotiations over witnesses broke down last month amid disagreements with Democrats on the panel.

The House and Senate intelligence committees are also expecting to interview Trump Jr., but those interviews are expected to be behind closed doors.


Associated Press writers Zeke Miller, Eric Tucker, Chad Day and Tom LoBianco contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2018
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
New Russia probe details likely to dominate Sessions hearing
Attorney General Jeff Sessions returns to Capitol Hill this week amid growing evidence of contacts between Russians and associates of President Donald Trump
8:34PM ( 15 minutes ago )
The Latest: Pence says he was unaware of WikiLeaks link
Vice President Mike Pence's spokeswoman says he was unaware of Donald Trump Jr.'s contacts with WikiLeaks when he issued a denial that the Trump campaign was in cahoots with the hacking group
8:33PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Trump Jr. messaged with WikiLeaks during, after campaign
President Donald Trump's son has released a series of direct messages he received from the Twitter account behind the WikiLeaks website
8:30PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
10 Things to Know for Tuesday
Among 10 Things to Know: Emotional accusations turn up heat on Ala. Senate Candidate Roy Moore; How Trump is reshaping federal courts; Why torrential rainfall could become more common in Texas.
7:43PM ( 1 hour ago )
Report: Trump Jr. messaged with WikiLeaks during campaign
The Atlantic reports that President Donald Trump's oldest son communicated with the Twitter account behind WikiLeaks, exchanging direct messages during the 2016 election about leaked emails from Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign
7:34PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Moore denies new accusation of sexual misconduct
Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama says the latest accusation against him of sexual misconduct is "absolutely false."
7:25PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Could anyone stop Trump from launching nukes? The answer: No
Here's a question rarely raised before Donald Trump ran for the White House: If the president ordered a pre-emptive nuclear strike, could anyone stop him? The answer is no.
4:54PM ( 3 hours ago )
New accuser claims sexual assault by Moore in 1970s
A new accuser is saying that as a teenager in the 1970s she was sexually assaulted by Roy Moore in a locked car
3:50PM ( 4 hours ago )
Trump buddies up to Duterte, doesn't highlight human rights
President Donald Trump is winding down his visit to Asia with a focus on promoting trade and fighting terrorism and not on publicly highlighting human rights abuses
2:53PM ( 5 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Utah's Curtis is sworn in as newest Republican House member
Republican John Curtis of Utah became the newest member of Congress late Monday
7:18PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Trump to meet with House GOP ahead of tax vote
White House official says Trump plans to meet with House Republicans on Thursday ahead of an expected vote on tax overhaul legislation
7:03PM ( 1 hour ago )
Texas may swap US House seniority for staunch conservatism
Three veteran Texas Republicans are bowing out of Congress, meaning the country's largest red state will be trading a serious chunk of House seniority for new perspectives that may prove to be even more conservative
6:06PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: GOP senator downplays tax increases under bill
Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch is downplaying a new analysis by congressional tax experts showing that 13.8 million moderate-income households actually would see their taxes increase in 2019 under the Senate proposal.
4:06PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: Senator says Moore should be expelled if elected
The head of the Senate Republican campaign committee says if Roy Moore wins his race in Alabama, the Senate should vote to expel him
3:53PM ( 4 hours ago )
Trump turns to drug industry for his new health secretary
President Donald Trump picks former top drug company and government executive to be his next health secretary
3:46PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
The Latest: Roy Moore argues Senate leader should step down
Alabama Republican Roy Moore says it's Mitch McConnell who should quit, not him
1:04PM ( 7 hours ago )
The Latest: McConnell says Roy Moore should step aside
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama "should step aside" in light of allegations he had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl decades ago
11:56AM ( 8 hours ago )
Somaliland votes for new president amid tight contest
People in Somalia's semi-autonomous region of Somaliland are voting Monday to elect their fifth president Monday as the ruling party faces a strong challenge from opposition candidates
10:37AM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Elections
Roy Moore says allegations are intended to derail Senate bid
A defiant Roy Moore pushed forward Saturday with his U.S. Senate campaign, criticizing as "false" and "an attack on my character" a newspaper report carrying allegations of sexual misconduct
6:34PM ( 2 days ago )
Some GOP political operatives fear Moore could lose race
Longtime Republican political operatives fear GOP might lose one of its Senate seats in Alabama in spite of Roy Moore's denials that he had a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl several decades ago
2:34AM ( 2 days ago )
Trump opposition inspires Dem focus on statehouse wins
Sweeping victories in Virginia and key gains in other 2017 state legislative races have Democrats hoping for even bigger wins in next year's midterm election
2:05AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
New Russia probe details likely to dominate Sessions hearing
Attorney General Jeff Sessions returns to Capitol Hill this week amid growing evidence of contacts between Russians and associates of President Donald Trump
8:34PM ( 16 minutes ago )
The Latest: Pence says he was unaware of WikiLeaks link
Vice President Mike Pence's spokeswoman says he was unaware of Donald Trump Jr.'s contacts with WikiLeaks when he issued a denial that the Trump campaign was in cahoots with the hacking group
8:33PM ( 17 minutes ago )
New sex assault allegation hits Moore; withdrawal calls grow
Yet another woman has emerged to accuse Roy Moore of sexually assaulting her as a teenager in the late 1970s
8:16PM ( 34 minutes ago )
'Hannity' fans smash Keurig brewers over pulled ads
A decision by coffee maker manufacturer Keurig to stop advertising on Sean Hannity's Fox News program has supporters of the conservative host destroying the company's products
8:09PM ( 41 minutes ago )
The Latest: Moore accuser's mother believes assault claim
The mother of Senate candidate Roy Moore's latest accuser tells The Associated Press she believes her daughter's claim of assault, calling her a "very credible person."
8:01PM ( 48 minutes ago )