Former Trump campaign director Paul Manafort met with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange three times in Ecuador’s London embassy, the Guardian reported today. One visit occurred around the same month that Russia started hacking the Democratic National Committee.
A few months after the last visit, which the Guardian says was “around March 2016,” Wikileaks began releasing tens of thousands of Democratic emails. On March 29, Manafort joined the Trump campaign. Manafort called the Guardian’s report “100% false.”
The reporting on the 2016 meeting is based on a single “well-placed source,” but the newspaper cites other sources to corroborate earlier meetings in 2013 and 2015, including a document by Ecuador’s Senain intelligence agency that lists “Paul Manaford [sic]” as one of Assange’s guests, along with “Russians.” The visits were not logged in the embassy’s records.
The 2016 visit reportedly lasted about 40 minutes, with Manafort “casually dressed when he exited the embassy, wearing sandy-coloured chinos, a cardigan and a light-coloured shirt.”
Manafort made a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller in September 2018, having been indicted for tax and bank fraud and facing charges including money laundering and conspiracy against the United States. However, Mueller’s team told a Washington, DC court yesterday that Manafort had violated the deal by lying to them “on a variety of subject matters.” They asked judge Amy Berman to sentence him immediately.
Roger Stone, a decades-long Manafort associate, is under close scrutiny from Mueller, including over tweets that seemed to hint at advanced knowledge of emails later released by Wikileaks.