Embattled former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort says that he has never met privately with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and is threatening to sue the Guardian for reporting that he has.
Citing a “well-placed source,” the Guardian reported Tuesday that Manafort met with Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in 2013, 2015, and again in the spring of 2016, soon after he became a senior member of the Trump campaign. The report further suggested that the alleged meeting will be of interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether any members of the Trump campaign helped to coordinate the release of hacked Democratic National Committee emails by WikiLeaks. However, the report stipulates that “it is unclear why Manafort would have wanted to see Assange and what was discussed.”
“This story is totally false and deliberately libelous. I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected to him. I have never been contacted by anyone connected to WikiLeaks, either directly or indirectly,” read a statement provided to National Review by Manafort’s spokesman.“I have never reached out to Assange or WikiLeaks on any matter. We are considering all legal options against the Guardian who proceeded with this story even after being notified by my representatives that it was false.”
WikiLeaks also questioned the veracity of the Guardian’s reporting in a Tuesday tweet.
This is going to be one of the most infamous news disasters since Stern published the "Hitler Diaries".
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) November 27, 2018
The report comes one day after prosecutors accused Manafort — who is currently awaiting sentencing after being found guilty of a number of financial crimes — of violating his plea agreement by continuing to lie to investigators after agreeing to cooperate. Prosecutors said they would disclose the specifics of Manafort’s deception in future memos.
Mueller is also reportedly investigating whether Trump confidant Roger Stone coordinated the release of the hacked emails. Conservative author Jerome Corsi, who is himself reportedly a target of the Mueller investigation, claims in an upcoming book obtained by The Daily Caller that he helped Stone create a backstory to explain a tweet that seemed to suggest Stone knew ahead of time that WikiLeaks planned to release former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s hacked emails.
In the book, Corsi writes that he was granted “limited immunity” in exchange for testifying that he wrote an opposition-research memo on Podesta and shared it with Stone, providing the basis for Stone’s August 2016 prediction that it would “soon be Podesta’s time in the barrel.” Stone, however maintains that he did not coordinate with WikiLeaks and was not aware of the DNC hack before the wider public.