During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump Jr. was in direct contact with WikiLeaks at the same time the muckraking website was publishing hacked emails from Democratic officials that proved damaging to the Clinton campaign, according to several major publications.
TFollowing the reports, Trump Jr. acknowledged the contact in a tweet detailing one exchange with the radical transparency organization
The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, in articles published late Monday, said that then-candidate Donald Trump’s eldest son used the messaging feature on Twitter to communicate with WikiLeaks, which in turn alerted the campaign to the impending release of the hacked emails.
The publications report that the messages between Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks were among thousands of documents turned over to Congress as part of its ongoing investigation into claims that Russia interfered in the November election — a finding backed unanimously by U.S. intelligence agencies, which have said that the Kremlin aimed to aid Donald Trump’s campaign.
WikiLeaks was founded by Australian computer programmer Julian Assange, who rose to global prominence in 2010 when he published damning classified information from Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst then known as Bradley Manning, and video from the Afghanistan war.
Since 2012, Assange has been seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, in an effort to avoided an arrest warrant in Sweden on sexual assault charges. Those charges were dropped earlier this year.
U.S. intelligence agencies believe WikiLeaks served as a conduit for Russian efforts to sway the election through the release of hacked emails. An intelligence assessment put out in January concluded “with high confidence” that the GRU, Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, “relayed material it acquired from the [Democratic National Committee] and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks.”
The Atlantic reports that in its communications with Trump Jr., WikiLeaks “made a series of increasingly bold requests,” which included “urging the Trump campaign on Election Day to reject the results of the election as rigged, and requesting that the president-elect tell Australia to appoint [Assange] ambassador to the United States.”
That back-and-forth — or at least a portion of it — was released in a tweet by Trump Jr. on Monday.