Trump Jr interacted with WikiLeaks

Trump Jr interacted with WikiLeaks
US President Donald Trump’s son, Trump Jr was in direct communication with WikiLeaks in the crucial final stages of the 2016 presidential election.

US President Donald Trump’s son, Trump Jr was in direct communication with WikiLeaks in the crucial final stages of the 2016 presidential election.

The correspondence was reported by the media and then confirmed by Trump Jr.  

Background

In June 2016, Trump Jr met with Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya and music promoter Rob Goldstone. Veselnitskaya has deep ties to Kremlin. Goldstone arranged for the meeting, noting that this was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump.” The Trump campaign was promised information that would be harmful to the Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. Trump Jr replied that he “loved it.” The meeting was also attended by Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor at the White House and then chairman of the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort.

Details of the meeting were published in a New York Times article in 2017. Michael Hayden, former CIA Director has publicly made statements noting that this meeting pointed to “soft collusion”. He elaborated, “The kind of soft collusion I'm referring to here was the line in the email that simply suggested 'if you got bad stuff, August or September, late summer is the time we'll really need it.”

Initially Trump Jr said that the meeting had been about Russian adoptions but changed his statement as more details began to emerge in the media. Former head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, has now been appointed by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) to investigate this matter. In September 2017, Donald Trump Jr presented himself to be questioned by Senate investigators regarding the meeting. According to media reports, he affirmed that he did not collude with any foreign government.

WikiLeaks is an international non-profit organization that publishes secret information, news leaks, and classified media provided by anonymous sources. Its website was founded in 2006 in Iceland and claims a database of 10 million documents in 10 years since its launch. Julian Assange, an Australian Internet activist, is generally described as its founder, editor-in-chief, and director. He currently lives in the Embassy of Ecuador, London, England, UK by right of asylum. It was WikiLeaks that released emails and other documents from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta. There have been reports that it was Russia that had provided WikiLeaks with the emails that were later released. Assange has denied such reports. 

Analysis

US President Donald Trump’s son, Trump Jr was in direct communication with WikiLeaks in the crucial final stages of the 2016 presidential election (between September and October 2016). The correspondence was reported by the media and then confirmed by Trump Jr.  

The exchanges took place through Twitter where Trump Jr interacted with the official account for WikiLeaks. The messages were handed over to handed to congressional investigators by Trump Jr’s lawyers. The contents were then leaked to The Atlantic.

In one of the messages, WikiLeaks said, “Hey Donald, great to see you and your dad talking about our publications. The message was sent two days after Donald Trump had proclaimed at a campaign rally that he loved WikiLeaks. “Strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us. There’s many great stories the press are missing and we’re sure some of your follows [sic] will find it,” the message continued.

At the time, Trump Jr did not reply to the WikiLeaks message but two days later he tweeted that same link to wlsearch.tk.

Alan Futerfas, an attorney for Trump Jr., said in a statement provided to the Atlantic, "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 and any questions raised about them have been easily answered in the appropriate forum."

It has been established the Trump Jr responded to WikiLeaks at least twice during this period. In the October 3 exchange, the WikiLeaks Twitter account sent a message to Trump Jr. that said: "Hiya, it'd be great if you guys could comment on/push this story," and proceeded to link to a quote from Hillary Clinton suggesting a drone strike against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. "Already did that earlier today," Trump Jr. wrote back. "It's amazing what she can get away with."

Trump Jr also reportedly informed high-level Trump campaign officials, including Kellyanne Conway and Jared Kushner, that WikiLeaks had made contact with him in September 2016.

There is an ongoing probe by special counsel Robert Mueller investigating links between Russian players and the Trump campaign. Former top aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates have already been indicted. In addition, George Papadopoulos became the first person to plead guilty on charges of having lied to FBI investigators. Details can be found here.

Assessment

Our assessment is that as more details emerge, it seems likely Trump Jr might be indicted in the ongoing Russian probe. As the son of the US President, his indictment could jeopardize the Trump Presidency. 

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