In a series of posts published on Monday, Newsweek senior writer Kurt Eichenwald took to Twitter to share what he described as the "evidentiary link" between President Donald Trump, Wikileaks, and Russian officials accused of helping influence the results of the 2016 presidential election.
As recalled by Eichenwald, he established this alleged link in 2016, when he received a phone call "from someone in the intelligence world" informing him about a Russian website that published articles designed to spread disinformation and disrupt the United States and other democratic nations. Eichenwald added that this call took place sometime after Wikileaks published a collection of emails from former Hillary Clinton presidential campaign chairman John Podesta.
"One of those emails was then manipulated to make it appear as something it was not. Words from an article I wrote were placed in the mouth of a Hillary Clinton ally making it look as if even her confidantes were secretly blaming her for [the 2012 Benghazi attack]. It was a fraud."Eichenwald further alleged that the email was tweeted by the @TEN_GOP Twitter account, which ostensibly belonged to the Tennessee Republican Party but was ultimately proven by special counsel Robert Mueller and his team to be a fake account run by Russian hackers, as reported in February 2018 by the Tennessean. Per Eichenwald, the tweet was one of "billions" sent out by the phony account on that same day and was also passed around among various Russian accounts and cited in a news article by the state-controlled news agency Sputnik. As Eichenwald was writing a story about the above information relayed to him by his intelligence contact, he reportedly learned that Donald Trump, who was then at a rally, read the fraudulent email to the assembled crowd, suggesting that it took only a few hours for the document to somehow reach the would-be president's hands. Eichenwald then published his article, only to face skepticism from various sources who supposedly told him it was "absurd" to suggest Trump's campaign was in cahoots with Russian officials.
"Skepticism based on personal belief, and not reporting, transformed rapidly into a coordinated defensive attack. The New York Observer, owned by Trump's son-in-law [Jared Kushner], went after me, as did a number of other groups close to Wikileaks or Trump."According to Eichenwald, Sputnik also launched its own "absurd" attack on him in one of its articles, alleging that he lied about his material and offered bribes, then allowing the Trump campaign to email this story to reporters. He added that there were some sources, including the Daily Caller Foundation, that acknowledged receiving the Sputnik story from Trump campaign officials.
In the summer of 2017, Sputnik quoted its editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, who commented on Eichenwald's Newsweek story, which had, by that time, reportedly been deleted due to concern over possible lawsuits.
"Fearing court proceedings, Newsweek deleted false stories about us. We will further explain to various 'newsweeks,' that it is not good to lie."While neither Donald Trump nor the White House has commented on Kurt Eichenwald's recent allegations, the president has vehemently denied accusations that his campaign had colluded with Russia ahead of the 2016 presidential election and has, as noted by publications such as Vox, often referred to Mueller's special counsel investigation as a "witch hunt."