Future family reunions will be held in a federal prison.
Future family reunions will be held in a federal prison. Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Atlantic's Julia Ioffe obtained messages between WikiLeaks and Donald Trump Jr., the son with shit-eating grin (pictured above). As Ioffe reports, the correspondence began when WikiLeaks slipped into Jr.'s DMs back in September 2016. That message read: "A PAC run anti-Trump site putintrump.org is about to launch. The PAC is a recycled pro-Iraq war PAC. We have guessed the password. It is 'putintrump.' See 'About' for who is behind it. Any comments?"

The site, Ioffe reports, was founded by the entreprenuer Rob Glaser. Twelve hours after recieving the message, Trump responded, “Off the record I don’t know who that is, but I’ll ask around. Thanks.” Soon after, Jr. emailed Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Jared Kushner, and other top administration officials to alert them that WikiLeaks had been in touch.

That was just the beginning. WikiLeaks, it turns out, reached out to Jr. repeatedly between September of 2016 and July of 2017. More than once, WikiLeaks requested that members of the Trump campaign push stories published on the site, most of which focused on alleged Clinton wrongdoing. Ioffe writes:

On October 3, 2016, WikiLeaks wrote again. “Hiya, it’d be great if you guys could comment on/push this story,” WikiLeaks suggested, attaching a quote from then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton about wanting to “just drone” WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.

“Already did that earlier today,” Trump Jr. responded an hour-and-a-half later. “It’s amazing what she can get away with.”

Two minutes later, Trump Jr. wrote again, asking, “What’s behind this Wednesday leak I keep reading about?” The day before, Roger Stone, an informal advisor to Donald Trump, had tweeted, “Wednesday@HillaryClinton is done. #WikiLeaks.”

WikiLeaks didn’t respond to that message, but on October 12, 2016, the account again messaged Trump Jr. “Hey Donald, great to see you and your dad talking about our publications,” WikiLeaks wrote. (At a rally on October 10, Donald Trump had proclaimed, “I love WikiLeaks!”)

“Strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us,” WikiLeaks went on, pointing Trump Jr. to the link wlsearch.tk, which it said would help Trump’s followers dig through the trove of stolen documents and find stories. “There’s many great stories the press are missing and we’re sure some of your follows [sic] will find it,” WikiLeaks went on. “Btw we just released Podesta Emails Part 4.”

Trump Jr. did not respond to this message. But just 15 minutes after it was sent, as The Wall Street Journal’s Byron Tau pointed out, Donald Trump himself tweeted, “Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. So dishonest! Rigged system!”

The messages were turned over to Congress as part of the investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign. WikiLeaks also variously asked Jr. to leak his father's tax returns (“If we publish them it will dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality."); tell Australia to appoint WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as US Ambassador; and, on Election Day last year, to challenge the results if Clinton won (“Hi Don if your father ‘loses’ we think it is much more interesting if he DOES NOT conceed [sic] and spends time CHALLENGING the media and other types of rigging that occurred—as he has implied that he might do.").

The reason this is important is because the beating heart of the Russian meddling investigation is whether or not the Trump campaign was involved in hacks of the Clinton camp's emails, including John Podesta, who was then the chairman of Clinton's presidential campaign. From these messages, it's not clear that they were. But it is clear that Jr. was in contact with WikiLeaks right before the Podesta hack and that he took that information right up the food chain, to Bannon, Conway, and Kushner, if not to Trump himself. Read the whole sordid tale here.