Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
WASHINGTON (AP) — An email sent to President Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. before the 2016 election included a decryption key for hacked documents that the website WikiLeaks had already made public a day earlier.
The email obtained by The Associated Press on Friday disputes an earlier news report by CNN that Trump and his eldest son had received the information before the hacked data had been made public. In fact, the email was sent to Trump and his son on Sept. 14, 2016, the day after WikiLeaks had released the documents publicly on its website and Twitter account. CNN later corrected its report.
The email message was also sent to members of the Trump campaign and Trump's company, including lawyer Michael Cohen and an email address once used by Hope Hicks, a campaign communications aide who is now a senior aide in the White House.
"I hope this information help (sic) you," the email said, with the writer noting that the "huge" archive of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee was 678 megabytes. In a tweet the previous day, WikiLeaks had released 678.4 megabytes of DNC emails.
In an interview, Alan Garten, general counsel for the Trump Organization, said he gave the email to the House intelligence committee on Monday ahead of Trump Jr.'s closed-door interview with the panel. In the Wednesday interview, Trump Jr. told committee members that he doesn't remember ever seeing the email.
"We checked our records. Nobody ever responded. It was disregarded," Garten said.
The existence of the email was first reported by CNN around 8 a.m. Friday. CNN said the email was sent on Sept. 4, before the WikiLeaks release, but the copy of the email obtained by AP shows it was sent 10 days later. In a tweet Friday afternoon, Trump Jr. chided CNN for not immediately correcting its report. At 3:45 p.m., CNN corrected the report.
Garten said the incorrect date created a misleading narrative about his client, suggesting that Trump Jr. was getting early access to hacked material. Garten also blasted the committee for what he saw as an unauthorized leak. The panel's interview with Trump Jr. was supposed to be private.
"This undermines the credibility of their investigation," Garten said, calling committee leaks unethical and reckless.
Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for Trump Jr., also criticized the leaks and said that the email was never responded to. He said that was discussed in the intelligence committee interview.
Futerfas characterized the message as one of thousands that Trump Jr. and the campaign received "from individuals all over the world with opinions, suggestions, ideas and commentary."
The top Democrat on the House intelligence committee said Friday his panel is looking into the email.
"That is a matter that is under investigation. We need to determine the veracity of that and what were any actions that were taken in response to receiving that email, as well as whether there's a relationship between that and the other private communication that Don Jr. had with WikiLeaks," California Rep. Adam Schiff said in an interview with the AP.
Schiff also criticized the leaks. He would only comment on the parts of the CNN report that had already been confirmed by Trump Jr.'s lawyer.
Trump Jr. last month released a series of private Twitter exchanges between himself and WikiLeaks during and after the 2016 election, including pleas from the website to publicize its leaks.
The newly-discovered Sept. 14, 2016, email was sent from a Yahoo account and signed by a person named Michael Erickson. On Friday, the AP left a phone message at a number listed for Erickson and emailed the account. The messages weren't immediately returned.
Garten said the Trumps do not know Erickson or have any information about him other than what was included in the email. He said the person appeared to be a Trump supporter, pointing to information that had already been released publicly by WikiLeaks.
"He's not affiliated with anybody," Garten said.
Garten said there's no evidence Trump personally saw the email. The president doesn't use email, and the message went to an account for Trump that isn't monitored, he said.
Associated Press writers Tom LoBianco and Zeke Miller contributed to this report.
Read the email: http://apne.ws/vj8Wk1X