Among the revelations in Julia Ioffe's bombshell report for the Atlantic alleging that Donald Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., corresponded with WikiLeaks over the course of 10 months, is the unfortunate timing of a blanket denial of any collusion between the campaign and WikiLeaks by now-Vice President Mike Pence. The copies of the messages released by Trump Jr. don't contain a response. 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.
Trump Jr. did not respond to most of the messages from WikiLeaks, but the contact has only added to the scrutiny surrounding the Trump campaign and possible ties to Russian Federation.
As The Atlantic points out, US intelligence agencies believe that the Russian government was using WikiLeaks as a way to disperse hacked information, and in this message WikiLeaks seems to be looking for ways to push back against that perception and to seem less anti-Clinton while. publishing a "vast amount of stuff" on Clinton.
The newly revealed exchanges provide additional information about the role played by Trump jnr in 2016.
- April 26, 2016: Papadopoulos meets with Joseph Mifsud, a professor in London, who tells him that the Russians had obtained "dirt" on Clinton, including thousands of emails.
However, the messages do not show that Trump Jr. or anyone else on the Trump campaign had advance knowledge of any of WikiLeaks' plans regarding Democrats' hacked emails.
As The Atlantic acknowledges, the conversation was largely one-sided, with WikiLeaks making a proposal and Trump Jr. either acting in accordance or going silent. "Hey Donald, great to see you and your dad talking about our publications". WikiLeaks also passes along a link to a searchable database of the hacked information, saying: "Strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us".More news: Bombardier gets second customer for its C series jet in a month
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.
Trump jnr did not answer. Fifteen minutes later, his father tweeted to his millions of followers: 'Very little pickup by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. "So dishonest! Rigged system!"
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"Nothing could be further from the truth", Pence replied. Alyssa Farah, a Pence spokesman, said yesterday that he was "never aware of anyone associated with the campaign being in contact with WikiLeaks". "He first learned of this news from a published report earlier tonight".
As BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner notes, on October 14 2016, Pence appeared on Fox and Friends to dispel and questions about the Trump campaign's communications with WikiLeaks, an organization which Trump's own CIA Director Mike Pompeo has labeled a "hostile intelligence service". As for criminality, it is the effort to halt the investigation (e.g., lean on former FBI director James Comey not to investigate Michael Flynn, fire Comey, draft a fake explanation for the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting) that raises the potential for a charge of obstruction of justice.
Trump Jr. has given his private Twitter correspondences with WikiLeaks over to lawmakers investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.