Report: Manafort Secretly Met With Assange in 2016

'Guardian' says they met around the time Manafort became campaign manager
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2018 11:19 AM CST
New Manafort Trouble: Report of Secret Talks With Assange
Paul Manafort in a file photo from May 2018.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

And suddenly Paul Manafort is making big headlines again. First came Robert Mueller's allegation that Manafort has been lying, not cooperating, despite his plea deal. Now a report in the Guardian alleges that Manafort held secret meetings with none other than Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, another key figure in the Mueller investigation. The story, based on anonymous sources, says the most recent meeting between the two occurred in March 2016, about the time Manafort became the Trump campaign manager. A few months after that, WikiLeaks released a trove of Democratic emails, obtained by Russian hackers, that proved damaging to the Clinton campaign. Manafort denies any link to the hack, and his lawyers declined to answer questions about the alleged Assange visits.

At the Washington Post, Philip Bump looks at the implications. Confirmation of the 2016 meeting would link the Trump campaign to WikiLeaks, but not necessarily to the Russian hackers, so it's unclear how big of a deal this is. "The critical question, if such a meeting took place, is the extent to which Manafort and Assange discussed the 2016 campaign, if at all," writes Bump, who provides a detailed timeline of all the related events. WikiLeaks, for its part, denied the meetings took place. "WikiLeaks is willing to bet the Guardian a million dollars and its editor's head that Manafort never met Assange," the group tweeted. Meanwhile, the allegation that Manafort isn't cooperating with Mueller despite his plea agreement has MSNBC's Chris Hayes speculating about a motive. "Sure looks like a last-minute play to be pardoned," he says, per Axios. (More Paul Manafort stories.)

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