President Donald Trump's son has released a series of private messages from WikiLeaks' Twitter account sent to him during and after the 2016 presidential campaign.
Donald Trump Jr.'s release of the messages came hours after The Atlantic magazine, which obtained the string of messages, first reported them. As he released them, he appeared to downplay the exchanges, saying on his Twitter account, "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!"
The messages appear to reach out to Trump Jr. as part of WikiLeaks' effort to publicize itself and its beleaguered founder, Julian Assange.
The Atlantic reports WikiLeaks tweeted Trump Jr. numerous times between September 2016 and July this year.
Although Trump ignored most of the tweets, he did reply to three.
In one, he said he would "ask around" when WikiLeaks inquired who was behind an anti-Trump website.
Another time, Trump said "it's amazing what she can get away with" when WikiLeaks mentioned a Hillary Clinton comment about wanting to "drone" Assange.
In the third response, Trump Jr. complained about media "corruption and hypocrisy" when WikiLeaks appealed to him to urge his father to Tweet praise about WikiLeaks.
Trump Jr. did not respond to other WikiLeaks tweets, including one appealing for Trump to release his tax returns to WikiLeaks to make the website appear to be "impartial."
Another tweet suggested Trump ask Australia to name Assange as its ambassador to the United States. Trump Jr. also did not reply to a tweet urging his father to challenge the presidential election as rigged if he had lost.
Although Trump Jr. did not respond to every WikiLeaks tweet, he never rebuffed the organization for trying to use him as someone very close to a presidential candidate, and later president, in order to push its agenda.
In his own tweets, WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange said he couldn't confirm the messages, but later said they were part of its promotional efforts. "WikiLeaks can be very effective at convincing even high-profile people that it is in their interest to promote links to its publication," he said.
Assange is currently in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he is trying to avoid extradition to the United States to face charges of spying.
Democratic party lawmakers reacted to the report, calling on Trump Jr. to provide more information. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee tweeted, "These messages seem to indicate Pres. Trump's son was actively engaged and may have coordinated strategy with a known agent of the Russian government, WikiLeaks. We cannot know the full extent of these communications unless and until they are subpoenaed by Chairman Grassley."
All the correspondence between Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks have been turned over to congressional investigators probing possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian efforts to sway the election in Trump's favor.
"Putting aside the question as to why or by whom such documents produced to Congress under promises of confidentiality have been selectively leaked, we can say with confidence that we have no concerns about these documents and any questions raised about them have been easily answered in appropriate forum," said Alan Futerfas, an attorney for Trump Jr.