Just before the stroke of midnight on Sept. 20, 2016, at the height of last year’s presidential election, the WikiLeaks Twitter account sent a private direct message to Donald Trump Jr., the Republican nominee’s oldest son and campaign surrogate. The message was part of a long—and largely one-sided—correspondence between WikiLeaks and the president’s son that continued until at least July 2017.
Trump Jr. on Monday confirmed he communicated with WikiLeaks during his father’s presidential campaign. “Here is the entire chain of messages with @wikileaks (with my whopping three responses) which one of the congressional committees has chosen to selectively leak. How ironic!,” Trump Jr. wrote on Twitter. According to the screenshots shared by Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son did not respond to most of the inquiries from WikiLeaks.
The messages were turned over to congressional investigators and obtained by The Atlantic. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange responded to the report on Twitter, stating he cannot confirm the DMs between Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks wrote Trump Jr. on Oct. 12, 2016, suggesting “your dad” tweet a link to a collection of hacked documents “if he mentions us.” Trump Jr. didn’t reply but 15 minutes later, Donald Trump sent a tweet criticizing the media for not reporting on WikiLeaks’ “incredible information.” Two days later, Trump Jr. sent a tweet that included WikiLeaks’ suggested link.
WikiLeaks at one point asked for Donald Trump’s tax returns prior to the election, one message obtained by The Atlantic shows, because “if we publish them it will dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality.” And if the group could be seen as impartial, it reasoned, “the vast amount of stuff that we are publishing on Clinton will have much higher impact, because it won’t be perceived as coming from a ‘pro-Trump’ ‘pro-Russia’ source,” the message said, according to The Atlantic.