President Donald Trump’s eldest son Donald Trump, Jr. reportedly coordinated with WikiLeaks in mounting a vicious cyberattack against a fledgling anti-Trump website called PutinTrump.org.
Mother Jones magazine said on Wednesday that in September of 2016, PutinTrump.org was hit with a vicious cyberattack in which hackers clogged the site with spam, published staffers’ personal information online and subjected them to a relentless campaign of threats and intimidation.
“It was the scariest time in our lives,” one staff member recounted to PutinTrump editorial director Bill Buzenberg, who penned the Mother Jones essay. “There were messages threatening our families.”
On Sep. 19, 2016, PutinTrump.org prepared to go live, sending out a press release to “roughly a dozen” major news agencies that included a link to a mockup of the site’s front page and a password with which to view it, “putintrump.”
Within hours of the moment the site was supposed to go live, we now know — thanks to reporting from The Atlantic — that WikiLeaks sent a direct message to Trump Jr. on Twitter.
“A PAC run anti-Trump site putintrump.org is about to launch. The PAC is a recycled pro-Iraq war PAC. We have guessed the password. It is ‘putintrump.’ See ‘About’ for who is behind it. Any comments?” said the message.
“Off the record I don’t know who that is, but I’ll ask around,” Trump Jr. replied. “Thanks.”
Trump Jr. then emailed campaign officials about the note including his sister’s husband Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway and the campaign’s digital director Brad Parscale. Kushner forwarded the email to now-White House communications director Hope Hicks.
“Almost immediately after WikiLeaks messaged Trump Jr., though, it made another move: It tweeted out the password,” said Buzenberg, explaining that “(t)he password did not allow anyone access to the back end of the site; it was intended simply to let the press preview the site as it would look the following day, when it went live.”
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) September 21, 2016