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Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks Engaged in a Secret 10-Month Correspondence

Wow. Just wow.

The Atlantic’s Julia Ioffe just came out with a blockbuster report revealing that Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks carried out a 10-month correspondence during the 2016 presidential campaign and in the months following. The messages were turned over to congressional investigators and obtained by The Atlantic. And while the messages were mostly one-sided by WikiLeaks, Trump Jr. did respond from time to time:

According to a source familiar with the congressional investigations into Russian interference with the 2016 campaign, who requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, on the same day that Trump Jr. received the first message from Wikileaks, he emailed other senior officials with the Trump campaign, including Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Brad Parscale, and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, telling them Wikileaks had made contact. Kushner then forwarded the email to campaign communications staffer Hope Hicks. At no point during the 10-month correspondence does Trump, Jr. rebuff Wikileaks, which had published stolen documents and was already observed to be releasing information that benefited Russian interests.

One back-and-forth between the Trump scion and the transparency organization took place in early-October when WikiLeaks asked the Trump campaign to comment and push on a story involving Hillary Clinton calling for WikiLeak’s founder Julian Assange to be droned. “Already did that earlier today,” Trump Jr. responded. “It’s amazing what she can get away with.”

Days later, Trump Jr. also tweeted out a link that WikiLeaks provided him in a series of messages.

After that, then-candidate Donald Trump’s son stopped responding to WikiLeak’s direct messages. But that didn’t stop the organization from hitting Trump Jr. up with more aggressive requests. One message in late-October 2016 involved WikiLeaks asking for the senior Trump’s tax returns.

“Hey Don. We have an unusual idea,” Wikileaks wrote on October 21, 2016. “Leak us one or more of your father’s tax returns.” Wikileaks then laid out three reasons why this would benefit both the Trumps and Wikileaks. One, The New York Times had already published a fragment of Trump’s tax returns on October 1; two, the rest could come out any time “through the most biased source (e.g. NYT/MSNBC).”

The organization added that it wanted to do this to “improve the perception of impartiality” so that the stuff it was publishing on Clinton would have a greater impact as it wouldn’t be “perceived as coming for a ‘pro-Trump ‘pro-Russia source.” After that, they waited until Election Day to contact Trump Jr., telling him that if his father should lose the election he should not concede and move forward with challenging the results as being rigged.

It was also noted that after a lengthy period of near-silence, WikiLeaks sent Don Jr. a message following the bombshell story of his Trump Tower meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya. While Trump Jr. didn’t respond to the message, he did publicly post his emails surrounding the meeting, something that WikiLeaks suggested (though they wanted to be the ones who published them).

UPDATE 5:26 PM ET: Ioffe updated her piece to include this incredible detail that was caught by the Wall Street Journal’s Byron Tau — then-candidate Trump tweeted about the release of John Podesta’s emails 15 minutes after WikiLeaks contacted Trump Jr.

UPDATE 6:29 PM ET: Assange has responded on Twitter, stating that he cannot confirm the DMs between Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks. He has also indicated that he will be sending out additional tweets on the subject.

UPDATE 7:13 PM ET: Assange has finally added to his Twitter thread.

[image via screengrab]

Follow Justin Baragona on Twitter: @justinbaragona

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