Julian Assange says he urged Donald Trump Jr to publish Russia emails via WikiLeaks
Donald Trump Jr released the emails on Tuesday after The New York Times told him they had the documents and would be reporting on them.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has claimed that he contacted United States president Donald Trump's son to publish via WikiLeaks the emails about setting up a meeting with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
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, the Guardian reported.
"Contacted Trump Jr this morning on why he should publish his emails (ie with us)," tweeted Assange, who is based at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. "Two hours later, does it himself."
Trump Jr released the emails on Tuesday after The New York Times told him they had the documents and would be reporting on them.
Assange said he told Trump Jr to release the documents "because his enemies have it – so why not the public?"
"Better to be transparent and have the full context," he continued, "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 report said.
The emails reveal correspondence between Trump Jr and his acquaintance Rob Goldstone as they set up a meeting with Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who promised to share incriminating evidence on Clinton to help the Trump campaign.
"This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Trump," Goldstone wrote in one email.
"If it's what you say I love it," Trump Jr said in one reply, referring to the information about Clinton.
Trump Jr said that nothing came out of the meeting and that Veselnitskaya only wanted to talk about a US policy on Russian adoptions.
He denied any wrongdoing in taking the meeting, but lawmakers were vying to get him to testify before House and Senate committees.
Trump said in a statement that Trump Jr "is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency".
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