Don­ald Trump Jr.’s se­cret Wik­iLeaks re­la­tion­ship is un­veiled

He seeks to down­play pri­vate com­mu­ni­ca­tions dur­ing cam­paign; Pence spokes­woman says he was never made aware of con­tacts

Financial Chronicle - - AROUND THE GLOBE - BILLY HOUSE

DON­ALD Trump Jr., US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s el­dest son, said Mon­day he had di­rect com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Wik­iLeaks in the weeks be­fore the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, arm­ing Democrats with what they say is ev­i­dence of a proxy link be­tween his fa­ther’s cam­paign and the Krem­lin.

The younger Trump down­played the news by crit­i­cis­ing the leak of his pri­vate com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Wik­iLeaks, a web­site that posts con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion from govern­ments and other sources, say­ing they had been pre­vi­ously given to con­gres­sional pan­els. On Twit­ter, he re­leased copies of what he de­scribed as the ex­tent of his di­rect com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the web­site.

“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!” he tweeted Mon­day night.

Trump Jr. ac­knowl­edged the com­mu­ni­ca­tions Mon­day af­ter the At­lantic mag­a­zine re­ported ear­lier in the day on the mes­sages that had been given to con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

In the mes­sages, he mostly an­swered con­tacts from Wik­iLeaks po­litely or not at all. At the same time, he doesn’t out­right re­ject the re­la­tion­ship or com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the Ju­lian As­sange-fronted web­site.

As­sange said on Twit­ter Mon­day that he couldn’t ver­ify the copies of the di­rect mes­sages to Trump Jr.

Hos­tile Ac­tor

CIA Di­rec­tor Mike Pom­peo, in his first speech af­ter tak­ing that job ear­lier this year, char­ac­terised Wik­iLeaks as a “non­state hos­tile in­tel­li­gence ser­vice,” sin­gling out As­sange. Trump Jr.’s lawyer, Alan Futer­fas, said in a state­ment that while the com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­vided to Congress “un­der the prom­ise of con­fi­den­tial­ity” were 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.”

Democrats seized on the rev­e­la­tion, say­ing Trump Jr. joins a list of other Trump op­er­a­tives who had pri­vate com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Wik­iLeaks, in­clud­ing Roger Stone and Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica, a data-min­ing firm that worked for the cam­paign. “I think the sig­nif­i­cance here is, this is yet an­other in­di­ca­tion of the cam­paign’s will­ing­ness at the very high­est lev­els to ac­cept for­eign as­sis­tance – to ac­cept as­sis­tance here with a cut-out of the Krem­lin that’s pub­lish­ing the stolen doc­u­ments that were ob­tained by a Rus­sian hack of Hil­lary Clin­ton’s cam­paign,” said Adam Schiff, the top Demo­crat on the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee.

Pence’s Disavowal

The younger Trump never pre­vi­ously ad­mit­ted to such com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Af­ter he did so Mon­day, a spokes­woman for Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence said he didn’t know about the link un­til it was re­ported in the press.

“The Vice Pres­i­dent was never aware of any­one as­so­ci­ated with the cam­paign be­ing in con­tact with Wik­iLeaks,” Pence spokes­woman Alyssa Farah said. “He first learned of this news from a pub­lished re­port ear­lier tonight.”

Dur­ing his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, Don­ald Trump re­peat­edly cited Wik­iLeaks’ re­lease of stolen emails from the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee and Hil­lary Clin­ton cam­paign chair­man John Podesta. At a rally in Oc­to­ber 2016, in Penn­syl­va­nia, he even praised the re­leases and said, “I love Wik­iLeaks.”

That praise was a topic of one of the com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween Wik­iLeaks and Trump Jr., on Oct. 12, 2016. “Hey Don­ald, great to see you and your dad talk­ing about our pub­li­ca­tions,” the Wik­iLeaks ac­count, @Wik­iLeaks, wrote to the younger Trump two days af­ter his fa­ther’s lauda­tory remarks in Penn­syl­va­nia.

Rus­sia’s in­ter­fer­ence in the elec­tion – and po­ten­tial col­lu­sion with the Trump cam­paign – re­mains the sub­ject of mul­ti­ple in­ves­ti­ga­tions by con­gres­sional in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tees and Special Coun­sel Robert Mueller.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.