On Friday morning, CNN reports that Donald Trump Jr. “received an email in September 2016 offering a decryption key and website address for hacked WikiLeaks documents.” The email was sent about a month before Wikileaks began releasing hacked emails from the Clinton campaign.
Trump Jr. claims to have no recollection of the email, which was sent September 14.
Ten day prior, Trump Jr. did something he had never done before — mentioned Wikileaks on Twitter.
WIKILEAKS: Hillary Clinton Sent THOUSANDS of Classified Cables Marked “(C)” for Confidential https://t.co/RzMaW1uN0x via gatewaypundit
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 4, 2016
Two weeks later, Wikileaks began contacting Trump Jr. via Direct Message. At one point, Trump Jr. shared a website at the request of Wikileaks.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) October 14, 2016
These direct messages were shared by Trump Jr. last month after their existence became public.
Here is the entire chain of messages with @wikileaks (with my whopping 3 responses) which one of the congressional committees has chosen to selectively leak. How ironic! 1/3 pic.twitter.com/SiwTqWtykA
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) November 14, 2017
The email revealed today by CNN is part of a pattern of contacts by Russians and Russian cutouts seeking to coordinate with the Trump campaign with respect to information damaging to the Clinton campaign. On April 26, a Russian cutout told Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos that he had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.” On June 3, a friend of Trump Jr. told him that high-ranking Russian officials had damaging information on Hillary Clinton and requested Trump Jr. meet with Russians who had the information. On August 21, longtime Trump political adviser Roger Stone, who bragged about backchannel communications with Wikileaks, tweeted, “Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel.”
Russia was clearly seeking the Trump campaigns cooperation in distributing and drawing attention to the hacked emails. And they got it: In the final month of the campaign, Donald Trump mentioned Wikileaks 164 times.
“The press is hardly even talking about Wikileaks. You now that. Wikileaks is amazing. The stuff that’s coming out, it shows she’s a real liar. She said, well, you have to say to the public and you have to say to your donors different things. Okay? The press doesn’t even pick this stuff up. You look at, where are you seeing it?,” Trump told Bill O’Reilly on October 11, 2016.
At a rally the next day, Trump said “one of the big advantages of me having a rather large microphone, and meaning a lot of people are listening, is that I can talk about Wikileaks and we are live, it’s amazing. Boom boom boom.”
CORRECTION: The Washington Post obtained a copy of the email itself, which was sent September 14, not September 4, as CNN first reported. This piece has been updated to reflect the actual timing of the email.