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Mueller probing meeting between Paul Manafort, Ecuador’s president

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Robert Mueller
Robert Mueller.
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  • The special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly probing a
    2017 meeting between former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort
    and Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno.
  • Mueller is said to be asking specifically about whether
    Manafort and Moreno discussed WikiLeaks or its founder, Julian
    Assange, during the meeting.
  • Manafort was spearheading the Trump campaign when WikiLeaks
    began dumping batches of emails belonging to the Democratic
    National Committee that had been stolen by Russian hackers.

The special counsel Robert Mueller is inquiring about a 2017
meeting between Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President
Donald Trump’s campaign, and Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno,
CNN reported.

Mueller is said to be asking, in particular, about whether
Manafort and Moreno discussed the radical pro-transparency group
WikiLeaks, or its founder Julian Assange, during the meeting.

Assange has been seeking refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in
London since 2012. CNN’s report comes hours after The Guardian
reported that Manafort visited
the embassy at least three times since Assange began living
there, including once in March 2016, around the time he joined
the Trump campaign.

In a statement to INSIDER, Manafort forcefully denied the
Guardian’s report.

“This story is totally false and deliberately libelous,” he
said. “I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected to
him. I have never been contacted by anyone connected to
Wikileaks, either directly or indirectly.”

The statement continued: “We are considering all legal
options against the Guardian who proceeded with this story even
after being notified by my representatives that it was
false.”

Manafort was spearheading the Trump campaign when WikiLeaks
published thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National
Committee and the Clinton campaign at the height of the 2016
election. The US intelligence community believes the breaches and
subsequent dissemination of emails were carried out on the
Kremlin’s orders and that Russia used WikiLeaks as a propaganda
tool.

WikiLeaks dumped the first batch of hacked Democratic emails on
July 22, 2016. Days later, on August 2, Manafort met with the
Russian military intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik and
later said they discussed the Trump campaign and the DNC hack.

Kilimnik said they did not discuss the campaign but talked about
“current events” and “unpaid bills,” believed to be a reference
to Manafort’s financial debt to the Russian-Ukrainian oligarch
Oleg Deripaska.

Manafort pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy and
obstruction and has been cooperating with Mueller since. But
prosecutors said in a late Monday court filing that Manafort has
lied to investigators in breach of his agreement, potentially
jeopardizing his cooperation deal.

The agreement between the two sides had been rocky for at least
the last few weeks. Earlier this month, ABC News reported that
talks between Manafort and Mueller broke down because prosecutors
felt the former Trump campaign chairman wasn’t being forthcoming
about what he knew.

Among other things, Mueller is known to be asking Manafort what
he knows about the Trump campaign’s ties to the transparency
organization.

Assange and WikiLeaks are at the center of Mueller’s
investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The
DOJ has been investigating Assange since 2010 for his role in
obtaining and disseminating sensitive information pertaining to
US national security interests. It recently surfaced that the DOJ
is preparing to indict Assange.

In a recently unsealed court
filing
 in an unrelated case, assistant US
attorney Kellen S. Dwyer asked a federal judge in the Eastern
District of Virginia to keep the matter sealed.

Dwyer wrote that “due to the sophistication of the defendant and
the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely
to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged,”
adding that the charges would “need to remain sealed until
Assange is arrested.”

Dwyer was reportedly also working on the WikiLeaks case, and
people familiar with the matter told The Washington
Post
 that what Dwyer had revealed in the
filing was true but unintentional.

The longtime GOP strategist Roger Stone and the far-right
conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, both of whom are of interest to
Mueller because of their connections to WikiLeaks, have also said
in recent weeks that they expect to be indicted soon.

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