Manafort reportedly visited WikiLeaks' Assange in lead-up to election

Manafort reportedly visited WikiLeaks' Assange in lead-up to election

The British newspaper reported that Manafort met with Assange "around March 2016", the same month he joined the Trump campaign.

WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump does not know whether his former campaign chairman ever met with Julian Assange before Assange released stolen emails in an effort to help him win the presidency, Trump's lawyer said Tuesday.

The Guardian story, however, does not cite any sources by name, although it does quote an Ecuadorian government document that suggests "Paul Manaford" paid a call to its embassy in London. Manafort was jailed earlier this year and was thought to be one of the key witnesses in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The report was based on unnamed sources and the outlet noted that the embassy has no record of Manafort's alleged 2016 visit.

"I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected to him", the statement said.

"Remember this day when the Guardian permitted a serial fabricator to totally destroy the paper's reputation", the organization said in a tweet.

Assange has been staying in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London under a grant of asylum since 2012.

Manafort reportedly violated his plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller by lying to prosecutors, and now this report and WikiLeaks' $1 million denial has come forward.

Report: Paul Manafort Met With Julian Assange Months Before WikiLeaks Published DNC Emails

Citing a "well-placed source", The Guardian reported that Manafort met with Assange around March 2016, just months before WikiLeaks released Democratic emails believed to be stolen by Russian intelligence officers.

Assange runs the WikiLeaks group, which the US intelligence community has concluded acted as an arm of Russian intelligence agencies working to help elect Trump in 2016 at the direction of that country's authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin.

A free-press advocacy group wants to see the documents after their existence was apparently let slip by prosecutors in another case. The Guardian said Manafort's lawyers declined to answer its questions about the visits.

Mr Manafort swiftly denied the Guardian report. The list, according to the newspaper, also mentions "Russians". That third meeting came just months before WikiLeaks released a trove of politically damaging Hillary Clinton and Democratic Party emails that had been stolen by Russian Federation.

For more than a year now, Manafort has been at the heart of several unresolved threads of the Mueller investigation.

Manafort was found guilty in August of financial fraud but pleaded guilty and entered into a cooperation agreement with Mueller before the start of a second federal trial in September.

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