On Monday, the internet broke wide open with the news of Donald Trump Junior’s ongoing contact with “transparency” organization WikiLeaks, a group headed by exile Julian Assange that was found to be working with Russia extensively during the 2016 presidential election.
The news was devastating for the president’s son, who despite being nearly as active (and unhinged) on Twitter as his father, hasn’t said a word publicly about the revelation.
In the short term, we’re certain that Junior would like to be able to deny major contact between the campaign and the WikiLeaks organization, since Assange and his crew were behind the posting of hacked emails from the DNC, an action that the Trump Campaign now finds themselves in the unenviable position of having to defend. And TrumpCo did just that at the end of last month, in an effort to squash lawsuits from Democratic activists who say that the publication of those emails by both WikiLeaks and the Trump Campaign divulged personal information about staffers, including home addresses and Social Security numbers.
All this, even as Trump’s own CIA Director, former House Republican from Kansas Mike Pompeo, calls WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.”
But at the very least, the president himself could throw Junior under the bus if necessary. It’s not like the emails ever had his name on them, right? That’s the logic, although as everyone knows, Hope Hicks played personal go-between for Trump Sr. during the entirety of the campaign, so anything forwarded to her — say, every contact that Trump Junior had with WikiLeaks, for example — would have crossed the president’s desk anyway.
And as the administration will undoubtedly point out, the conversation between Assange’s hacking unit and Trump Junior was almost entirely one-sided. But they made a few key back-and-forth exchanges that we saw the public face of at the time, when we did not know that Junior was communicating with WikiLeaks. One such contact was on October 3 of last year, when WikiLeaks emailed Don about possibly commenting publicly on Hillary Clinton’s statement about the WikiLeaks organization. Don responded, “already did that earlier today.”
Emboldened by the response from the campaign, WikiLeaks wrote again on October 12, a little more than a week later. Trump had just mentioned the organization at an October 10th rally, where he shouted “I love WikiLeaks!”
Hey Donald, great to see you and your dad talking about our publications. Strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us.”
The link was to a public archive of the hacked emails.
It stands to reason that if anyone other than Trump Junior had the WikiLeaks suggestions and information at hand during these periods of contact, someone might have said something.
But Trump himself unwittingly did the investigation the favor of having to make that Holmes-ian leap in sleuth work, as esteemed Wall Street Journal reporter Byron Tau pointed out:
— Byron Tau (@ByronTau) November 13, 2017
Just 15 minutes had passed between the time Donald Trump Junior got an email with “incredible information” linked inside and the time that Donald Trump Senior tweeted about it.
Anyone — including the president himself — who says that contact with the hacking organization WikiLeaks was incidental or not affiliated with the 2016 campaign is lying, and we have the timeline to prove it.
Featured image via David Becker/Getty Images