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Manafort Held Secret Talks With Assange in Ecuadorian Embassy
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=49628"><span class="small">Luke Harding and Dan Collyns, Guardian UK</span></a>   
Tuesday, 27 November 2018 14:22

Excerpt: "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 has been told."

Paul Manafort mug shot, released by the Alexandria Sheriff's Office. (photo: Alexandria Sheriff's Office)
Paul Manafort mug shot, released by the Alexandria Sheriff's Office. (photo: Alexandria Sheriff's Office)

Manafort Held Secret Talks With Assange in Ecuadorian Embassy

By Luke Harding and Dan Collyns, Guardian UK

27 November 18

Trump ally met WikiLeaks founder months before emails hacked by Russia were published

onald 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 has been told.

Sources have said Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016 – during the period when he was made a key figure in Trump’s push for the White House.

It is unclear why Manafort would have wanted to see Assange and what was discussed. But the last apparent 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 “100% false”. His lawyers declined to answer the Guardian’s questions about the visits.

In a series of tweets WikiLeaks said Assange and Manafort had not met. Assange described the story as a hoax.

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 “crimes and lies” on a “variety of subject matters”.

His defence team says he believes what he has told Mueller to be truthful and has not violated his deal.

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

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 the 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 revelation could shed new light on the sequence of events in the run-up to summer 2016, when WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of emails hacked by the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency. Hillary Clinton has said the hack contributed to her defeat.

The previously unreported Manafort-Assange connection is likely to be of interest to Mueller, who has been investigating possible contacts between WikiLeaks and associates of Trump including the political lobbyist Roger Stone and Donald Trump Jr.

One key question is when the Trump campaign was aware of the Kremlin’s hacking operation – and what, if anything, it did to encourage it. Trump has repeatedly denied collusion.

Earlier this year Mueller indicted 12 GRU intelligence officers for carrying out the hack, which began in March 2016.

In June of that year WikiLeaks emailed the GRU via an intermediary seeking the DNC material. After failed attempts, Vladimir Putin’s spies sent the documents in mid-July to WikiLeaks as an encrypted attachment.

According to sources, Manafort’s acquaintance with Assange goes back at least five years, to late 2012 or 2013, when the American was working in Ukraine and advising its Moscow-friendly president, Viktor Yanukovych.

Why Manafort might have sought out Assange in 2013 is unclear. During this period the veteran consultant was involved in black operations against Yanukovych’s chief political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, whom Yanukovych had jailed. Manafort ran an extensive lobbying operation featuring European former politicians.

He flew frequently from the US to Ukraine’s capital, Kiev – usually via Frankfurt but sometimes through London, flight records seen by the Guardian show.

Manafort is currently in jail in Alexandria, Virginia. In August a jury convicted him of crimes arising from his decade-long activities in Ukraine. They include large-scale money laundering and failure to pay US tax. Manafort pleaded guilty to further charges in order to avoid a second trial in Washington.

As well as accusing him of lying on Monday, the special counsel moved to set a date for Manafort to be sentenced.

One person familiar with WikiLeaks said Assange was motivated to damage the Democrats campaign because he believed a future Trump administration would be less likely to seek his extradition on possible charges of espionage. This fate had hung over Assange since 2010, when he released confidential US state department cables. It contributed to his decision to take refuge in the embassy.

According to the dossier written by the former MI6 officer Christopher Steele, Manafort was at the centre of a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between the Trump campaign and Russia’s leadership. The two sides had a mutual interest in defeating Clinton, Steele wrote, whom Putin “hated and feared”.

In a memo written soon after the DNC emails were published, Steele said: “The [hacking] operation had been conducted with the full knowledge and support of Trump and senior members of his campaign team.”

As a candidate Trump warmly welcomed the dump of DNC emails by Assange. In October 2016 he declared: “I love WikiLeaks.” Trump’s comments came after WikiLeaks released a second tranche of emails seized from the email account of John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman.

The Trump White House subsequently sent out mixed messages over Assange and his legal fate. In 2017 and behind the scenes Assange tried to reach a deal with Trump’s Department of Justice that might see him avoid US prison.

In May 2017, , Manafort flew to Ecuador to hold talks with the country’s president-elect Lenín Moreno. The discussions, days before Moreno was sworn in, and before Manafort was indicted – were ostensibly about a large-scale Chinese investment.

However, one source in Quito suggests that Manafort also discreetly raised Assange’s plight. Another senior foreign ministry source said he was sceptical Assange was mentioned. At the time Moreno was expected to continue support for him.

Last week a court filing released in error suggested that the US justice department had secretly charged Assange with a criminal offence. Written by the assistant US attorney, Kellen Dwyer, the document did not say what Assange had been charged with or when the alleged offence took place.

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0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-11-27 18:09
The "well placed source" for this story has to be the Mueller Probe. Manafort is denying vehemently that he ever visited or communicated with Assange or WikiLeaks. So it appears that this is one more piece of a puzzle Mueller is constructing that will link WikiLeaks, the Trump campaign, Trump, Russia (Putin and GRU), and Assange in one vast conspiracy to take down Hillary.

Of course, it will all be a total fabrication but who will speak against the Mueller Probe. Assange is silenced, Manafort is silenced. If he challenges Mueller he will go immediately to prison, as Mueller has now asked a judge to order. Trump will tweet but no one believes him. So Mueller will have his false case built and Assange, Mueller, and maybe a dozen more people will go to prison for long sentences, some for life. All for a total fabrication. This is the power of a special prosecutor and someone as insane and corrupt as Mueller.

I wonder if he will get away with this huge frame up? Odds are he will. That's been Mueller's M.O. for his career. He's doing all he can to prove the MI6-CIA-Steele dossier true. Trump holds the check mate to this in the documents he has promised to de-classify. MI6 is begging him not to release them. If he does, the documents may show the whole Steele Dossier and Russiagate to be a fabrication of a secret team that may have included Mueller in an indirect way but certainly included MI6, CIA, FBI, DOJ, and some private contractors.
0 # RMF 2018-12-01 14:16
Assange isn't silenced -- he can tweet all he wants, or publish anything else he wishes in his defense. But all we get are unpersuasive blanket denials.

Manafort breached his plea agreement -- could it be the prospect of a plutonium cocktail? But he too can say whatever he wishes, if not personally through his legal team -- but what do we hear of an exculpatory nature -- nada!
+3 # johnescher 2018-11-27 19:07
Paul Manafort visits Julian Assange in 2013, 2015 and 2016, and Rodion Raskolnikov is there too in order to claim that these meetings never happened. Previously Rodion murdered an old lady because he didn't like the permanent comb in her hair. Rodion and Donald Trump, among other personal attributes, have this one in common: They both say "NO COLLUSION, NO COLLUSION" over and over hundreds and thousands of times.
+5 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-11-27 19:51
There's a good critique of this story by Glenn Greenwald on the Intercept --

Greenwald concludes that the story is so obviously false that it is impossible to imagine why the Guardian published it except for the fact that it would go viral and propel the Guardian into the spotlight.

Maybe that is it. Luke Harding has been a water carrier for the Mueller Probe for quite a while. Maybe he's just helping to get the narrative started, as he did with his totally fake news book called "Collusion." Look what happened to the "collusion narrative."
+6 # bevin 2018-11-27 21:15
Craig Murray deals with this ridiculous invention in his blog:

"...Assange never met Manafort. The DNC emails were downloaded by an insider. Assange never even considered fleeing to Russia. Those are the facts, and I am in a position to give you a personal assurance of them.

"I can also assure you that Luke Harding, the Guardian, Washington Post and New York Times have been publishing a stream of deliberate lies, in collusion with the security services..."

Glenn Greenwald also deals with what is clearly an invention of MI6 at the Intercept.

There is no way that these meetings could have taken place without their being known and reported on at the time.
0 # Farafalla 2018-11-27 23:30
I wonder what the Radon Raskolnikov spin will be on this. Nah, he won’t say a word.
+5 # PerryAdler 2018-11-27 23:46
GLENN GREENWALD: Right. So let me just take a step back. I mean, I obviously worked at The Guardian when I did the Snowden reporting. I have a lot of respect for the reporters and editors there. They do a lot of great reporting. But one of their big flaws as an institution is they develop personal feuds with people they cover. And when that happens, they dispense with all journalistic standards. So, one of the people who they have particular hatred for is Jeremy Corbyn. And over and over, they have produced journalistic garbage about Corbyn in pursuit of their feud. The other—probably the only person they despise more than Jeremy Corbyn is Julian Assange, with whom they had once worked and then had a huge falling out with. It’s very personal and acrimonious. And whenever The Guardian reports on Julian Assange, all journalistic standards get thrown out of the window.
0 # RMF 2018-11-28 15:49
Perry -- that quote is two years old -- a bit stale wouldn't you say? Esp to be presented for the truth or falsity of an issue here and now these two long years later.

Would you like to be held to something you said two years ago,; a statement lacking the info you have now in the present?
+3 # Jack Radey 2018-11-28 00:50
I'm sorry. this story is bogus. The Ecuadoran Embassy has tight security. No one goes in without signing a visitor's log, showing, and surrendering a passport. No record of Mantafort going in. Bogus.
0 # RMF 2018-11-28 15:52
Apparently the log shows a visit by one "Manaford."

Sounds like our boy wouldn't you say?

Is it possible the US/Trump govt is reimbursing the Ecuadorian govt for it's expense in warehousing Assange, thereby keeping him out of reach of the long arm of justice?

If so this will be much bigger than Irangate!
+3 # DongiC 2018-11-28 02:28
Wow, what a plot! High level conspiracy, intrigue, colorful characters, money, position, possibly, the fate of the world not to mention a victory in the presidential race in 2016. The pot is sure boiling. I think Assange and Mannafort are done gooses. Maybe, Sir Donald and his family as well. God, you can't make this stuff up. Who would believe it? Oh, wait. Trump's supporters and Fox News are dumb enough to swallow it. They take fake news as gospel truth and Trump himself says he loves WikiLeaks. Stay tuned to this Theater of the absurd. Your future wellbeing may depend on its outcome.
+4 # harleysch 2018-11-28 06:40
Luke Harding, the coauthor of this piece, is a leaker for MI6. Once again, he is doing the work of those like Sir Richard Dearborn (MI6 chief responsible for the Iraq WMD dossier) and Dearborne's protégé, Christopher Steele -- whose dossier on Trump-Putin collusion Harding still defends as accurate! He even wrote a discredited, fact-challenged book titled "Collusion"!

Had Manafort been in the Ecuadorian embassy in 2016, there would be photos, videos, etc. This sounds like more prosecutorial pressure on Manafort, to force him to lie to implicate Trump for collusion.

I just don't buy it. Harding is a well-paid hack who has been proven wrong repeatedly, including in the British media. Sad to see RSN give him space to make his false accusations.
+6 # laborequalswealth 2018-11-28 09:10
This article is a lie. The one man in the world who exposes the truth so our CIA/MIC controlled media will stop at nothing to destroy him.
+4 # tpmco 2018-11-28 10:50
My gut feeling is that the premise of this article is false. I don’t think the Guardian can factually establish any meetings between Assange and Manafort.
+2 # PABLO DIABLO 2018-11-28 13:06
I keep seeing,"the Russians hacked Hillary and the DNC and gave the emails to Wikileaks". Was I asleep when "PROOF" that this occurred.
Just like WMD in Iraq, it became proof that the New York Time reported it over and over.
0 # RMF 2018-11-28 15:41
You want proof -- just look at Manafort's passport. Mueller will send you a photocopy -- just ask.
-4 # RMF 2018-11-28 14:57
This appears to be the smoking gun everyone has been waiting for.

The timing of Manafort's visit is perfectly placed to establish the coordinated effort among the conspirators (Trump campaign-Russia ns-Assange) in hacking/publish ing DNC info.
The March 2016 meeting between Assange and Manafort can be the lynchpin in Mueller's report to the Court, thereby linking all the parties together and proving the conspiracy.

Manafort is playing for a pardon, but his plea includes state violations, so a pardon won't save him from state prison. There is the question of double jeopardy -- the GOP Sup Ct is about to upend long-standing jurisprudence and apply the double jeopardy rule to separate state and federal violations. But that won't save him either -- because not all the violations are the same.

And since Manafort was a Mole, there was co-ordination between his lies and Trump's written answers to Mueller's questions. So, for Mueller to prove Manafort lied would simultaneously prove that trump lied.

Manafort is toast, but probably fears the Russians, and prefers prison to assassination.
-1 # harleysch 2018-11-28 17:29
RMF -- do yourself a favor, and look into all the evidence coming out on British fabrication related to all things Russian. The Harding article IS a smoking gun, but not of the sort you think. It shows how far British intelligence will go to manipulate dumb Americans to back up their geopolitical tantrums against Russia. This is not something new. Look up what the British were up to in the late 19th century, with the Great Game against Russia, played out in Central Asia, and again in the rantings of Halford Mackinder and his nonsense about the Eurasian heartland and the Rim countries!

That Hillary Clinton, Brennan, Obama, bought into this is a shame on them. That so many RSN readers buy it is a bigger shame, because so many here were previously in the forefront in exposing neocon and neo-liberal frauds. Now it appears that Trump Derangement Syndrome is alive and well here, especially among those who would believe the Fake News produced by a hack like Luke Harding.
+1 # RMF 2018-12-01 14:07
Hey Harley -- this isn't just 19th century politics, as you imply -- proof is because Mueller is a member of the Republican Party.

You think the GOP would appoint a Dem to investigate a GOP admin -- if so you are sadly misinformed.

Moreover, the Brits had nothing to do with Trump Tower Moscow -- which is the lynchpin for the entire conspiracy. The Russians (and the Saudis) played the Trump clan, a family perfectly positioned to be taken advantage of using espionage techniques.

The perjury is just a small part of it -- but taken in it's totality the Trump scheme is a fraud on the body politic, an impeachable offense. So now we are only waiting to see how soon the GOP Senate comes to this conclusion -- but there is a caveat here -- there may be so many in GOP on hook for taking laundered Russian money that they may fear convicting Trump on impeachment charges.
+1 # lfeuille 2018-11-28 20:40
I've no doubt that Manafort was lying about something and deserves to have his deal yanked but there doesn't seem to be much evidence to back up this Assange thing. If Manafort was there there should be documentary evidence of his visit. Otherwise you have to conger up a conspiracy to keep the visit quiet for 2 years between the CIA and the Ecuadorian Embassy personnel.