This multinational scandal has reached a unique point when WikiLeaks sees its own messages leaked.
Donald Trump Jr. correctly noted the irony when his private correspondence appeared Monday in The Atlantic.
But as Hillary Clinton’s detractors said about her hacked emails, the question is what these authentic materials expose.
They consist mainly of chummy direct Twitter messages to Junior, sent from a secret place in cyberspace controlled by Julian Assange, Wikileaks’ fugitive founder.
Gathered for the House inquiry on 2016 hacking and meddling, the exchanges establish friendly contact between last year’s Trump campaign and the camp of Assange, who remains holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
The language of the WikiLeaks messages is far from that of a “transparency” crusader whose role is about liberating information in the public interest without bias.
No, the purveyors of the famously hacked Democratic Party emails sounded in their direct messages like a consulting firm that could have called itself WikiFlacks.
“Hey Don. We have an unusual idea,” WikiLeaks wrote on Oct. 21, 2016.
“Leak us one or more of your father’s tax returns.
“If we publish them it will dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality,” WikiLeaks wrote. “That means that the vast amount of stuff that we are publishing on Clinton will have much higher impact, because it won’t be perceived as coming from a ‘pro-Trump’ ‘pro-Russia’ source.”
Now there’s something a public-relations consultant might devise. Perhaps it’s a little like the defense attorney leaking word of his client’s indictment so he can then complain about prosecutors’ leaks.
Much stranger was this WikiLeaks advice, sent on Election Day while it still looked as if Clinton would win:
“Hi Don if your father ‘loses’ we think it is much more interesting if he DOES NOT conceed [sic] and spends time CHALLENGING the media and other types of rigging that occurred — as he has implied that he might do.”
Oddly, it is as if Trump followed through on this advice even after he won — by making the bizarre claim that millions of illegal votes cost him the popular vote.
Then there was this pitch, post-election: “It would be real easy and helpful for your dad to suggest that Australia appoint Assange ambassador to [Washington,] DC.”
Well, don’t campaign advisers suggest patronage hires once the winner divides the spoils — even for themselves?
Obviously, that suggestion didn’t take. But sometimes it appears that the Trumps listened.
Wiki wrote in one instance: “Strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us.” Just 15 minutes later, Trump tweeted: “Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. So dishonest! Rigged system!”
And as would any good adviser, whether paid or unpaid, WikiLeaks alerted Trump Jr. to an anti-Trump website that was about to launch — replete with a guessed password.
U.S. intelligence agencies have linked Russian officials to the hacks of Democratic Party documents that WikiLeaks published.
Even without the Russian connection, though, the Donald Jr. exchanges give an inside glimpse of the modus operandi of Assange & Co. — that is, a bit of transparency.