Reported investigations have revealed ties between the Trump family and WikiLeaks. The Atlantic, a news outlet breaking the news, claims cooperation between Trump Jr. and Julian Assange during the run up to the United States 2016 election.
The messages, obtained by The Atlantic, consisted of private Twitter messages occurring between Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks. Although some private messages, instigated by WikiLeaks, were answered, most appear largely ignored.
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
The private messages were also turned over to congressional investigators and form part of the ongoing investigation into Trump-Russia ties during the presidential campaign. Intelligence agencies have accused the Kremlin of meddling in the presidential campaign to boost Donald Trump’s chances of winning. Although the WikiLeaks messages convey a distrust and concern towards Hillary Clinton winning the election, WikiLeaks concedes surprise when Trump wins; substantiating more willingness to release damaging information against Clinton rather than purporting Russian ties.
Trump Jr. ignored the bulk of messages from WikiLeaks, however it appears he acted on some requests, including pushing a story about Hillary Clinton’s inquiry of wanting to “just drone” Julian Assange.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) October 3, 2016
Trump Jr. responded ninety minutes later, on October 3, 2016, stating a release occurred earlier in the day and saying, “It’s amazing what she can get away with.” Trump Jr. then enquired about the Wednesday leak, probing about its content. The leak turned out to be the Podesta emails taken from Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta.
More private Twitter messages are scrutinized, but do not substantiate Russian ties. On one occasion WikiLeaks thanks Trump Jr. for talking about their publications, referring to the instance where Donald Trump declares his love for WikiLeaks.
Donald Trump, October 10, 2016: “This just came out. WikiLeaks! I love WikiLeaks!” pic.twitter.com/KWP7X2aLiN
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 21, 2017
WikiLeaks continued attempts to maintain ties with Trump Jr., even after Trump Jr. appears to have ceased correspondence. One private message requests that Trump Jr. leak his father’s tax returns. WikiLeaks laid out the reasons why this would benefit the campaign, including beating the mainstream media at their own game, and improving WikiLeaks’ “perception of [our] impartiality.”
It is with this private message, however, that waters are muddied as to the meaning of WikiLeaks’ use of words. WikiLeaks explains their request for the tax leaks as a means to appear less “pro-Russia” and “pro-Trump.” A link is provided to Trump Jr. where he can email the leaked files and any other documents that may already be at risk of going out to the press.
On face value, the message may be read as WikiLeaks having potential support from Russia, however, as with all online messages, the chance for misconstruing true meaning is high and the likelihood of the message being considered key evidence in a court room is minimal. Most likely, WikiLeaks gunned for the valuable tax returns of a running candidate that would prove a treasure trove for any publisher in the news business.
Trump Jr. did not respond to this request.
WikiLeaks further engaged Trump Jr. after the presidential win, encouraging the president-elect to suggest Assange be appointed as the Australian ambassador to Washington DC. The WikiLeaks message suggested that by doing this, Australia, the UK and Sweden would hopefully “start following the law” and stop ingratiating themselves “with the Clintons.” This followed Assange’s proclamation of innocence on December 7, 2016.
The narrative of the leaked messages between Trump Jr. and Assange, although unethical, are by no means evidence of Russian collusion. WikiLeaks, on face value, searched for a backdoor to obtain further information that would have catapulted the outlet further into headlining news.
A more recent July message, from WikiLeaks, offered Trump Jr. the chance to have the emails between Trump Jr. and Rob Goldstone published. These emails were a reference to ones cited in the New York Times, who broke the story of Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting with Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
Only hours after the WikiLeaks message, Trump Jr. opted to release them himself, posting the emails on his own Twitter feed on July 11.