The former director of the CIA has said Donald Trump Jr’s direct message exchanges with Wikileaks ahead of the 2016 US presidential election “take your breath away”.
According to a report in The Atlantic, the WikiLeaks Twitter account sent a series of direct messages to Donald Trump Jr, the eldest son of President Donald Trump. The messages have since been sent to congressional investigators who are exploring potential links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
The US intelligence services have said they believe Wikileaks was chosen by the Russian government as the means by which to broadcast information it had hacked.
The organisation’s release of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta had a major impact on the public discourse ahead of the election.
Asked by CNN whether he thought the President’s eldest son had been “moronic” to think that direct messages on Twitter constituted an “off the record” discussion, former CIA boss Michael Hayden said “it takes your breath away”, and added: “When I read the story I was just shaking my head”.
He added: “I have actually defaulted to the explanation of inexperience and naiveté when it comes to some of the campaign’s behaviour with regard to Russia and Wikileaks, and there’s probably still a fair amount of that, but I have to tell you that these continued discoveries that we are picking up here, I have to begin to ask the questions: ‘Were there any limits? Was there any sense of appropriateness? Was there any sense of propriety? Were there any lines beyond which the campaign would not go?’”
He added: “I’m not talking about it as a legal matter… I’m talking about a question of ethics in American political culture. There doesn’t seem to have been any limits here.”
According to the article in The Atlantic, on October 12 Wikileaks sent a private message to Donald Trump Jr thanking him after Donald Trump had said “I love Wikileaks” at a rally two days earlier following one of the organisation’s disclosures about Democratic National Committee figures and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta.
The revelations about the direct contact between the Trump campaign and the transparency organisation prompted Donald Trump Jr to publish screenshots of the messages he had sent to Wikileaks.