Help make Ju­lian As­sange Aus­tralia's US am­bas­sador, Wik­iLeaks urged Trump Jr

The Guardian Australia - - Front Page - Michael McGowan

Wik­iLeaks tried to have Ju­lian As­sange in­stalled as the Aus­tralian am­bas­sador to the US af­ter Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion, a new leak of pri­vate cor­re­spon­dence from inside the Trump cir­cle has re­vealed.

On Tues­day the At­lantic mag­a­zine re­ported Don­ald Trump Jr, the pres­i­dent’s son, was in con­tact with Wik­iLeaks via Twit­ter di­rect mes­sages dur­ing the fi­nal stages of the 2016 elec­tion. Copies of the cor­re­spon­dence were handed to con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tors by Trump Jr’s lawyers and then ob­tained by the At­lantic.

Trump Jr sub­se­quently tweeted a tran­script of what he said was the en­tire ex­change.

It re­veals Wik­iLeaks and Trump Jr sought in­for­ma­tion from each an­other and de­tails a string of in­creas­ingly bold sug­ges­tions made by Wik­iLeaks to Trump Jr, in­clud­ing ask­ing for the pres­i­dent-elect to tell Aus­tralia to ap­point As­sange am­bas­sador to the US.

On 16 De­cem­ber, a month af­ter Trump’s elec­tion, Wik­iLeaks asked Trump Jr to have his fa­ther “sug­gest” Aus­tralia ap­point As­sange to the post in Wash­ing­ton, DC.

“Hi Don. Hope you’re do­ing well!” Wik­iLeaks wrote to Trump Jr. “In re­la­tion to Mr. As­sange: Obama/ Clin­ton placed pres­sure on Swe­den, UK and Aus­tralia (his home coun­try) to il­lic­itly go af­ter Mr. As­sange. It would be real easy and help­ful for your dad to sug­gest that Aus­tralia ap­point As­sange am­bas­sador to DC.”

Wik­iLeaks went as far as sug­gest­ing word­ing for Trump: “‘That’s ‘a real smart tough guy and the most fa­mous aus­tralian [sic] you have!’ or some­thing sim­i­lar,” Wik­iLeaks wrote.

“They won’t do it but it will send the right sig­nals to Aus­tralia, UK + Swe­den to start fol­low­ing the law and stop bend­ing it to in­gra­ti­ate them­selves with the Clin­tons.”

Wik­iLeaks also en­cour­aged Trump Jr to leak his fa­ther’s tax re­turns to pre­vent them be­ing pub­lished by a “bi­ased source” such as the New York Times. “If we pub­lish them it will dra­mat­i­cally im­prove the per­cep­tion of our im­par­tial­ity,” Wik­iLeaks ex­plained.

It also urged the Trump cam­paign to re­ject the re­sults of the elec­tion as rigged, and in July told the pres­i­dent’s son to re­lease emails de­tail­ing his con­tact with Rus­sian fig­ures dur­ing the cam­paign.

While most of the com­mu­ni­ca­tion was one-sided, the ex­changes be­tween Trump Jr and Wik­iLeaks came at a highly sen­si­tive mo­ment. They took place only months be­fore the elec­tion, at the height of Wik­iLeaks’ pub­li­ca­tion of hacked emails be­long­ing to se­nior Demo­cratic fig­ures.

US in­tel­li­gence agen­cies al­lege the leaks came from the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment, which As­sange has de­nied.

On Twit­ter, As­sange said he “can­not con­firm the al­leged DM’s” and said the At­lantic story was “edited and clearly does not have the full con­text”.

How­ever he also pointed to a tweet from his own ac­count in July in which he said he had con­tacted Trump Jr to urge him to re­lease emails re­lat­ing to Trump Jr’s meet­ing with a Rus­sian lawyer he be­lieved might have dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion on the Clin­ton cam­paign.

As­sange said the mes­sages showed that “Wik­iLeaks loves its pend­ing pub­li­ca­tions and ig­nores those who ask for de­tails”.

“Trump Jr. was re­buffed just like Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica. In both cases Wik­iLeaks had pub­licly teased the pub­li­ca­tions,” he wrote.

“Thou­sands of peo­ple asked about them. Wik­iLeaks can be very ef­fec­tive at con­vinc­ing even high pro­file peo­ple that it is their in­ter­est to pro­mote links to its pub­li­ca­tions.

“Wik­iLeaks has such chutz­pah that it al­legedly tried to con­vince Trump Jr to leak his fa­ther’s tax re­turns amp; his own ‘Rus­sian lawyer meet­ing’ emails (he did). Wik­iLeaks ap­pears to be­guile some peo­ple into trans­parency by con­vinc­ing them that it is in their in­ter­est.”

As­sange has had a rocky re­la­tion­ship with the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment. In 2010 the for­mer prime min­is­ter Ju­lia Gil­lard de­scribed the re­lease by Wik­iLeaks of clas­si­fied doc­u­ments from the US State De­part­ment as “il­le­gal”, and af­ter he was granted asy­lum by Ecuador in 2012 Aus­tralia was ac­cused of “aban­don­ing” him.

Last year the for­eign af­fairs min­is­ter, Julie Bishop, met As­sange’s lawyers af­ter a United Na­tions re­port found As­sange had been “ar­bi­trar­ily de­tained” since his ar­rest in 2010.

Pho­to­graph: Do­minic Lip­in­ski/PA

Ju­lian As­sange should be sug­gested as a ‘smart tough guy’ for Aus­tralia’s US am­bas­sador post, Wik­iLeaks sug­gested.

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