Trump Jr. com­mu­ni­cated with Wik­iLeaks dur­ing cam­paign Pres­i­dent’s son didn’t re­spond to many of the notes

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - NEWS - By Carol D. Leon­nig and Ros­alind S. Hel­der­man

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s el­dest son ex­changed pri­vate mes­sages with Wik­iLeaks dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign at the same time the web­site was pub­lish­ing hacked emails from Demo­cratic of­fi­cials, ac­cord­ing to cor­re­spon­dence made pub­lic Mon­day.

Don­ald Trump Jr. did not re­spond to many of the notes, which were sent us­ing the di­rect mes­sage fea­ture on Twit­ter. But he alerted se­nior ad­vis­ers on his fa­ther’s cam­paign, in­clud­ing his brother-in-law Jared Kush­ner, ac­cord­ing to two peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the ex­changes.

In the mes­sages, Wik­iLeaks urged Trump Jr. to pro­mote its trove of hacked Demo­cratic emails and sug­gested that Don­ald Trump, his fa­ther, chal­lenge the elec­tion re­sults if he did not win, among other ideas. They were first re­ported by the At­lantic and later posted by Trump Jr. on Twit­ter.

Wik­iLeaks, which bills it­self as an anti-se­crecy group, was de­scribed in April by CIA Di­rec­tor Mike Pom­peo as a “non-state hos­tile in­tel­li­gence ser­vice of­ten abet­ted by state ac­tors like Rus­sia.”

In July 2016, the or­ga­ni­za­tion re­leased thou­sands of emails that had been stolen from the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee by a cy­ber-hack that U.S. in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials con­cluded was or­ches­trated by the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment.

Trump Jr. also has come un­der scru­tiny for agree­ing to meet with a Rus­sian lawyer in Trump Tower whom he was told wanted to pro­vide “dirt” about Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton on be­half of the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment.

Alan Futer­fas, Trump Jr.’s at­tor­ney, said his client’s ex­changes with Wik­iLeaks were in­nocu­ous.

“All sides in this cam­paign, the Clin­ton side, the Trump side, were mon­i­tor­ing Wik­iLeaks to see what they would pub­lish next,” Futer­fas said. “If The Wash­ing­ton Post or The New York Times was look­ing to see what was be­ing re­leased, does that sug­gest any im­pro­pri­ety on their part? Of course not.”

At one point dur­ing his com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Wik­iLeaks, Trump Jr. sought to learn more about a ru­mored leak of new doc­u­ments re­lated to Clin­ton, the mes­sages in­di­cate.

“What’s be­hind this Wed­nes­day leak I keep read­ing about?” Trump Jr. asked dur­ing one ex­change with the Wik­iLeaks ac­count on Oct. 3.

On Oct. 12, the ac­count replied to Trump Jr. with a sug­ges­tion: “Hey Don­ald, great to see you and your dad talk­ing about our pub­li­ca­tions,” Wik­iLeaks wrote. “Strongly sug­gest your dad tweets this link if he men­tions us.” The mes­sage in­cluded a link to search doc­u­ments that had been hacked from Clin­ton cam­paign chair­man John Podesta.

Trump Jr. did not an­swer. Fif­teen min­utes later, his fa­ther, Don­ald Trump, tweeted: “Very lit­tle pickup by the dis­hon­est me­dia of in­cred­i­ble in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by Wik­iLeaks. So dis­hon­est! Rigged sys­tem!”

Two days later, Trump Jr. tweeted the link to his fol­low­ers, writ­ing “For those who have the time to read about all the cor­rup­tion and hypocrisy all the @wik­ileaks emails are right here: http:// wlsearch.tk/.”

On Mon­day, White House lawyer Ty Cobb de­clined to com­ment, re­fer­ring ques­tions about the ex­changes to Trump Jr.’s lawyer. Futer­fas noted that Trump Jr. ig­nored sev­eral of Wik­iLeaks’ sug­ges­tions, in­clud­ing that he leak his fa­ther’s tax re­turns.

Ju­lian As­sange tweeted Mon­day that he could not con­firm the mes­sages be­cause Wik­iLeaks does not re­tain its Twit­ter mes­sages. But he wrote that Trump Jr. was “re­buffed” when he asked for in­for­ma­tion, com­par­ing him to “thou­sands” of oth­ers who had also asked and been sim­i­larly ig­nored.

On Mon­day, Rep. Adam Schiff, Calif., the top Demo­crat on the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, said the mes­sages were “yet an­other se­cret com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the Trump cam­paign and cut-outs for the Krem­lin.”

BRYNN AN­DER­SON/AP

Don­ald Trump Jr. also has come un­der scru­tiny for agree­ing to meet with a Rus­sian lawyer in 2016 in Trump Tower.

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