Donald Trump Jr communicated with WikiLeaks during 2016 campaign

Donald Trump Jr communicated with WikiLeaks during 2016 campaign

The eldest son of US President Donald Trump has released a series of private Twitter exchanges between himself and WikiLeaks during and after the 2016 election, including pleas from the website to publicise its leaks.

Donald Trump Jr's release of the messages on Twitter came hours after The Atlantic first reported them.

In the exchanges - some of them around the time that the website was releasing the stolen emails from Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman - WikiLeaks praises his father's positive comments about WikiLeaks and asks Trump Jr to release his father's tax returns to the site.

The revelations are sure to increase calls in Congress to have Trump Jr testify publicly as part of several committee probes into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

And they add a new element to the investigations that have been probing for months whether Trump's campaign colluded in any way with the Russian government.

In an intelligence assessment released last January, the NSA, CIA and FBI concluded that Russian military intelligence provided hacked information from the DNC and "senior Democratic officials" to WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks has denied that Russia was the source of emails it released, including those from Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta.

The private messages released by Trump Jr show him responding to the WikiLeaks account three times, at one point agreeing to "ask around" about a political action committee WikiLeaks had mentioned. He also asked the site about a rumour about an upcoming leak.

The messages began in September 2016.

Trump Jr downplayed the exchanges as he released them.

"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," he tweeted. "How ironic!"

Trump Jr's lawyers had released the exchanges to three congressional committees that have been investigating Russian intervention in the 2016 election and whether there were any links to Trump's campaign.

In a statement, Trump Jr's lawyer said thousands of documents had been turned over to the committees.

"Putting aside the question as to why or by whom such documents, provided 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 the appropriate forum," said Alan Futerfas.

In one message dated October 3 2016, the WikiLeaks Twitter account sent Trump Jr an article that included critical comments Clinton had made about WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange and said "it'd be great if you guys could comment on/push this story".

Trump Jr replied: "Already did that earlier today. It's amazing what she can get away with."

Vice President Mike Pence responded quickly to the revelations, issuing a statement through his press secretary that he knew nothing about the situation.

"The vice president was never aware of anyone associated with the campaign being in contact with WikiLeaks," said spokeswoman Alyssa Farah. "He first learned of this news from a published report earlier tonight."

Assange tweeted after The Atlantic report that he couldn't confirm the messages but then defended them after Trump Jr released them.

"WikiLeaks appears to beguile some people into transparency by convincing them that it is in their interest," Assange tweeted.

Democrats swiftly reacted to the report, saying Trump Jr should provide more information.

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