Donald Trump Jr releases leaked private messages to & from WikiLeaks

Messages show the organisation calling for help in getting Julian Assange appointed Australia's ambassador to the US

Donald Trump Jr releases leaked private messages to & from WikiLeaks

Donald Trump Jr. Picture by: Brynn Anderson/AP/Press Association Images

Donald Trump's son has released private Twitter messages he exchanged with WikiLeaks in the run-up to the US election.

Donald Trump Jr's response came after they were leaked to The Atlantic website.

The Twitter direct messages began in September 2016 and ran through to July this year.

The vast majority of the communication was one-sided, coming from WikiLeaks, and the President's son only responded three times.

They show the organisation made a series of requests: from asking for comments and suggesting President Trump retweet a link, to suggesting Mr Trump should not concede if he lost the election.

They even encouraged the President-elect to ask Australia to make WikiLeaks' founder, Julian Assange, ambassador to the US.

The message suggested he tell the country: "'That's a really smart tough guy and the most famous Australian you have!' or something similar."

Another request was for Mr Trump Jr to give them his father's tax returns.

The organisation said it had an "unusual idea", asking him: "Leak us one or more of your father's tax returns."

It gave three reasons why it claimed such a disclosure would benefit both the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks.

One of them being: "If we (WikiLeaks) publish them it will dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality."

According to the messages, Mr Trump Jr did not respond.

In response to the leaking of the messages on Monday, Mr Trump Jr released the "entire chain" of messages "with my whopping three responses".

His responses were agreeing to "ask around" about a political action committee mentioned by WikiLeaks; a comment about Hillary Clinton in which he said "it's amazing what she can get away with".

And, in October last year, just before WikiLeaks published emails linked to Mrs Clinton's campaign, asking "What's behind this Wednesday leak I keep reading about?"

'Alleged DMs'

Responding to The Atlantic article, Julian Assange said he could not confirm the 'alleged DMs' between Mr Trump Jr and WikiLeaks.

He argued: "WikiLeaks can be very effective at convincing even high profile people that it is their interest to promote links to its publications.

"WikiLeaks has such chutzpah that it allegedly tried to convince Trump Jr to leak his father's tax returns & his own "Russian lawyer meeting" emails (he did). WikiLeaks appears to beguile some people into transparency by convincing them that it is in their interest."

The messages had already been handed over by Mr Trump Jr's lawyers to three congressional committees investigating alleged Russian intervention in last year's election, and claims of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

An FBI, CIA and FBI assessment last year concluded that Russian intelligence had given hacked information from the Democratic Party to WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks has denied Russia was the source of the emails it released, including those from John Podesta, Mrs Clinton's campaign chairman.

The leaked Twitter exchanges are likely to increase calls for Mt Trump Jr. to testify publicly in front of the various committees.

In a statement, Mr Trump Jr's lawyer, Alan Futerfas, said: "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."

Vice President Mike Pence said, via his spokesman, that he was "never aware of anyone associated with the campaign being in contact with Wikileaks".

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the situation "demonstrates once again a willingness by the highest levels of the Trump campaign to accept foreign assistance".