Manafort Held Secret Talks with Assange in Ecuadorian Embassy

TrumpSides With Assange On Russia HackingBombshell in the Russia probe. Manafort Held Secret Talks with Assange in Ecuadorian Embassy. Trump’s ex-campaign manager and ally met WikiLeaks founder months before emails hacked by Russia were published.

Donald Trumpโ€™s former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trumpโ€™s campaign, the Guardian has been told.

Sources have said Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016 โ€“ during the period when he was made a key figure in Trumpโ€™s push for the White House.

It is unclear why Manafort wanted to see Assange and what was discussed. But the last meeting is likely to come under scrutiny and could interest Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

A well-placed source has told the Guardian that Manafort went to see Assange around March 2016. Months later WikiLeaks released a stash of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers.

Manafort, 69, denies involvement in the hack and says the claim is โ€œ100% falseโ€. His lawyers declined to answer the Guardianโ€™s questions about the visits.

Manafort was jailed this year and was thought to have become a star cooperator in the Mueller inquiry. But on Monday Mueller said Manafort had repeatedly lied to the FBI, despite agreeing to cooperate two months ago in a plea deal. According to a court document, Manafort had committed โ€œcrimes and liesโ€ on a โ€œvariety of subject mattersโ€.

Manafortโ€™s first visit to the embassy took place a year after Assange sought asylum inside, two sources said.

A separate internal document written by Ecuadorโ€™s Senain intelligence agency and seen by the Guardian lists โ€œPaul Manaford [sic]โ€ as one of several well-known guests. It also mentions โ€œRussiansโ€.

According to two sources, Manafort returned to the embassy in 2015. He paid another visit in spring 2016, turning up alone, around the time Trump named him as his convention manager. The visit is tentatively dated to March.

Manafortโ€™s 2016 visit to Assange lasted about 40 minutes, one source said, adding that the American was casually dressed when he exited the embassy, wearing sandy-coloured chinos, a cardigan and a light-coloured shirt.

Visitors normally register with embassy security guards and show their passports. Sources in Ecuador, however, say Manafort was not logged.

Embassy staff were aware only later of the potential significance of Manafortโ€™s visit and his political role with Trump, it is understood.

Read more at The Guardian