Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, responded to The Atlantic’s disclosure of private communications between his group and Donald Trump Jr. by praising his organization for its “chutzpah” in attempting to take advantage of the president’s son.
On Monday afternoon, my colleague Julia Ioffe reported on the direct messages exchanged on Twitter between WikiLeaks and Trump Jr. WikiLeaks attempted to convince the president’s son to promote the hacked emails it had published, share his father’s tax returns, and, on Election Day, challenge the U.S. election results. A few hours later, Trump Jr. confirmed the report by posting the full chain of messages to Twitter, while downplaying its importance.
Assange, for his part, insisted that his organization was merely attempting to solicit leaks. “WikiLeaks appears to beguile some people into transparency by convincing them that it is in their interest,” Assange wrote on Twitter on Monday. He added that the message encouraging Trump to reject the election as rigged was intended “to generate a transformative discussion about corrupt media, corrupt PACs, and primary corruption.”
The Twitter conversation between WikiLeaks and Trump Jr., which began in late September 2016 and lasted through July 2017, showed the radical transparency organization soliciting Trump Jr.’s cooperation. It made requests of him multiple times, from asking him to share links to proposing that Assange be appointed as the Australian ambassador to the U.S. Twice, the organization implored Trump Jr. to give it his father’s tax returns, as well as his email conversations related to a 2016 meeting with Russian lawyer (which Trump Jr. posted to his own Twitter account in July). Trump Jr. initially responded, but the messages disclosed on Monday include no replies after early October to WikiLeaks’s increasingly bold requests.