Site founder says he believed president’s son should release documents anonymously, given that Trump Jr’s ‘enemies’ already had them
Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, has claimed that he contacted Donald Trump Jr and tried to persuade him to publish emails showing he was eager to accept sensitive information about Hillary Clinton via the anti-secrecy website.
Instead, the US president’s eldest son did so via Twitter, igniting a firestorm of criticism around his apparent willingness to work with the Russian government against his father’s Democratic rival.
“Contacted Trump Jr this morning on why he should publish his emails (i.e with us),” tweeted Assange, who is based at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. “Two hours later, does it himself.”
Asked by another Twitter user to explain, Assange elaborated: “I argued that his enemies have it – so why not the public? His enemies will just milk isolated phrases for weeks or months … with their own context, spin and according to their own strategic timetable. Better to be transparent and have the full context … but would have been safer for us to publish it anonymously sourced. By publishing it himself it is easier to submit as evidence.”
It was not clear whether Assange’s use of the word “enemies” was the reference to the media or political rivals.
The Australian added: “He’s surely had advice and/or is confident on the facts. I’d argue that even the completely innocent need @WikiLeaks.”
WikiLeaks played a prominent role in the US presidential election, publishing emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta.
As a candidate, Trump declared: “I love WikiLeaks!” US intelligence agencies concluded that the hacking was carried out by Russia.
Trump’s longtime confidante Roger Stone communicated with Assange and a hacker known as “Guccifer 2.0”, who began posting DNC documents on 15 June – less than a week after Trump Jr’s meeting with a Russian lawyer in New York.
WikiLeaks’ apparent overlap of interests with the Trump campaign drew scrutiny at the time. Robert Mackey of the Intercept website wrote in August last year: “The WikiLeaks Twitter feed has started to look more like the stream of an opposition research firm working mainly to undermine Hillary Clinton than the updates of a non-partisan platform for whistleblowers.”