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Report: Paul Manafort met Julian Assange in 2016 at Ecuadorian embassy

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Paul Manafort
Paul Manafort.
AP Photo/Matt
Rourke


  • Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald
    Trump’s campaign, reportedly met in secret with WikiLeaks founder
    Julian Assange in March 2016.
  • Four months later, WikiLeaks dumped the first batch of hacked
    emails from the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary
    Clinton campaign.
  • 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.
  • The special counsel Robert Mueller has already been
    probing what Manafort knows about the campaign’s links to
    WikiLeaks and will be keenly interested in the timing of his
    reported meeting with Assange.

Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald Trump’s
campaign, secretly met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
shortly after he joined the campaign, The Guardian reported Tuesday.

Sources told The Guardian Manafort had previously interacted with
Assange in 2013 and 2015. His most recent visit reportedly came
in March 2016, right around when he was brought onto the campaign
to help shape delegate strategy going into the Republican
National Convention that summer.

Assange is currently seeking asylum inside the Ecuadorian embassy
in London. He and WikiLeaks are at the center of the special
counsel Robert 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.

Kellen 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.

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.

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 was the chairman of the Trump campaign at the
time, and legal experts say Mueller will be keenly interested in
the timing of his meeting with Assange, which came just months
before WikiLeaks’ first document dump. Indeed, Mueller has
already been probing what
Manafort knows about any links between the Trump campaign and
WikiLeaks.

Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction in
September and has been cooperating with Mueller since.

But things between the special counsel and Manafort have
reportedly been rocky for a while. Earlier this month, ABC News
reported that talks between the two sides had broken down.

Since pleading guilty, Manafort had met with prosecutors nearly a
dozen times, and though members of Mueller’s team have been
asking him about a wide range of topics, they’re “not getting
what they want,” a source with knowledge of the discussions told
ABC News.

On Monday, Mueller’s office said in a new court filing
that Manafort had breached his plea deal by lying to
investigators.

Mueller’s office asserted that “the nature of the
defendant’s crimes and lies, including those after signing the
plea agreement,” freed them of any obligation from the plea
agreement.

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