President Donald Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., communicated with WikiLeaks over Twitter direct message during the 2016 presidential race, according to a report in The Atlantic published Monday.
According to messages obtained by The Atlantic’s Julia Ioffe, Trump Jr. messaged with the WikiLeaks account between September 2016 and July 2017. The messages were given to congressional investigators probing whether Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russian officials to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. (Federal officials believe WikiLeaks published material, including emails from the Democratic National Committee’s servers, that had been obtained via Russian hackers.)
The messages are mostly from WikiLeaks to the president’s son, but Trump Jr. did occasionally respond to the messages. The organization made multiple requests of Trump Jr., asking him to provide his father’s tax returns and suggesting the candidate refuse to concede if he lost the election to Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. (Trump Jr. didn’t respond to either message.)
On one occasion, Trump Jr. tweeted a link to a cache of leaked emails after the WikiLeaks account messaged it to him.
On another, WikiLeaks wrote it was happy to see the elder Trump mentioning the group on the campaign trail. Moments later, Trump tweeted about the organization.
After Trump won the election, Wikileaks suggested that Trump should prod Australia to appoint the site’s founder, Julian Assange, ambassador to the United States.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a HuffPost request for comment on the report. In a statement to The Atlantic, Trump Jr.’s attorney, Alan Futerfas, said, “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.”
Vice President Mike Pence, who in an Oct. 14, 2016, interview with Fox News claimed the campaign had not been in contact with WikiLeaks, said in a statement late Monday that he had not known about Trump Jr.’s messages.
“The vice president was never aware of anyone associated with the campaign being in contact with WikiLeaks,” said Pence press secretary Alyssa Farah. “He first learned of this news from a published report earlier tonight.”
Weeks before the election, asked if the campaign was “in cahoots” with WikiLeaks, Pence denied it. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “I think all of us have, you know, have had concerns about WikiLeaks over the years, and it’s just a reality of American life today, and of life in the wider world.”
Trump Jr. became embroiled in the Russia investigation after it was revealed he and other campaign officials met with a Kremlin-backed attorney in June 2016 who had promised damaging information about Clinton. Leaked emails published by The New York Times show Trump Jr. arranged the meeting at Trump Tower in New York.
“To the extent they had information concerning the fitness, character or qualifications of a presidential candidate, I believed that I should at least hear them out,” Trump Jr. said in a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, one of the congressional committees probing the campaign’s Russia ties, in September.
He said the meeting did not lead to anything, and has denied colluding with the Russian government.
Trump Jr. is expected to publicly testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.
HuffPost’s S.V. Date contributed to this report.
This has been updated to include a statement from Vice President Mike Pence.