Wik­iLeaks ex­change adds in­trigue to probe

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - NATION - By Mary Clare Jalonick Mary Clare Jalonick is an Associated Press writer.

WASHINGTON — Pres­i­dent Trump’s old­est son re­leased a se­ries of pri­vate Twit­ter ex­changes be­tween him­self and Wik­iLeaks dur­ing and af­ter the 2016 elec­tion, in­clud­ing pleas from the web­site to pub­li­cize its leaks.

Don­ald Trump Jr.’s re­lease of the mes­sages on Twit­ter came hours af­ter The At­lantic first re­ported them Mon­day. In the ex­changes — some of them around the time that the web­site was re­leas­ing the stolen emails from Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton’s cam­paign chair­man — Wik­iLeaks praises his fa­ther’s pos­i­tive comments about Wik­iLeaks and asks Trump Jr. to re­lease his fa­ther’s tax re­turns to the site.

The rev­e­la­tions are sure to in­crease calls in Congress to have Trump Jr. tes­tify pub­licly as part of sev­eral com­mit­tee probes into Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion. And they add a new el­e­ment to the in­ves­ti­ga­tions that have been prob­ing for months whether Trump’s cam­paign col­luded in any way with the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment.

In an in­tel­li­gence as­sess­ment re­leased last Jan­uary, the NSA, CIA and FBI con­cluded that Rus­sian mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence pro­vided hacked in­for­ma­tion from the DNC and “se­nior Demo­cratic of­fi­cials” to Wik­iLeaks. Wik­iLeaks has de­nied that Rus­sia was the source of emails it re­leased, in­clud­ing those from Clin­ton’s cam­paign chair­man, John Podesta.

The pri­vate mes­sages re­leased by Trump Jr. show him re­spond­ing to the Wik­iLeaks ac­count three times, at one point agree­ing to “ask around” about a po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee Wik­iLeaks had men­tioned. He also asked the site about a ru­mor about an up­com­ing leak. The mes­sages be­gan in Septem­ber 2016 and ran through July.

Trump Jr. down­played the ex­changes as he re­leased them.

“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,” he tweeted. “How ironic!”

Trump Jr.’s lawyers had re­leased the ex­changes to three con­gres­sional com­mit­tees that have been in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sian in­ter­ven­tion in the 2016 elec­tion and whether there were any links to Trump’s cam­paign.

In a state­ment, Trump Jr.’s lawyer said thou­sands of doc­u­ments had been turned over to the com­mit­tees.

“Putting aside the ques­tion as to why or by whom such doc­u­ments, pro­vided to Congress un­der prom­ises of con­fi­den­tial­ity, have been se­lec­tively leaked, we can say with con­fi­dence that we have no con­cerns about th­ese doc­u­ments,” said Alan Futer­fas.

In one mes­sage dated Oct. 3, 2016, the Wik­iLeaks Twit­ter ac­count sent Trump Jr. an ar­ti­cle that in­cluded crit­i­cal comments Clin­ton had made about Wik­iLeaks ed­i­tor Ju­lian As­sange and said “it’d be great if you guys could com­ment on/push this story.”

Trump Jr. replied: “Al­ready did that ear­lier to­day. It’s amaz­ing what she can get away with.”

Two min­utes later, Trump Jr. sent an­other mes­sage: “What’s be­hind this Wed­nes­day leak I keep read­ing about?”

Long­time Trump as­so­ciate Roger Stone had tweeted the day be­fore that on Wed­nes­day, “Hil­lary Clin­ton is done,” ref­er­enc­ing Wik­iLeaks.

The Wik­iLeaks Twit­ter ac­count never re­sponded, but days later Wik­iLeaks started rolling out Podesta’s stolen emails.

Brynn An­der­son / Associated Press

Don­ald Trump Jr.’s re­lease of mes­sages with Wik­iLeaks came af­ter a re­port by The At­lantic.

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