UPDATE 2 BELOW: Wikileaks Explodes and Denies
Donald Trump’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 Trump’s campaign, The Guardian is reporting.
According to to Guardian sources, Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016 – during the period when he was working for Trump's campaign.
His lawyers declined to answer the Guardian’s questions about the visits.
More from The Guardian:
Manafort’s first visit to the embassy took place a year after Assange sought asylum inside, two sources said.Manafort joined Donald Trump's presidential campaign team in March 2016, and was campaign chairman from June to August 2016.
A separate internal document written by Ecuador’s Senain intelligence agency and seen by the Guardian lists “Paul Manaford [sic]” as one of several well-known guests. It also mentions “Russians”.
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.
Manafort’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 Manafort’s visit and his political role with Trump, it is understood.
The Bill Palmer take:
Wikileaks fired back at a bombshell Guardian report that Paul Manafort met with Julian Assange in Spring 2016, calling one reporter a “serial fabricator” and denying the meeting ever took place.
“Remember this day when the Guardian permitted a serial fabricator to totally destroy the paper’s reputation,” Wikileaks tweeted shortly after the publication of the report. “[Wikileaks] is willing to bet the Guardian a million dollars and its editor’s head that Manafort never met Assange.”