President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, met with Julian Assange around the same time he was joining the president’s team, according to a new report by the Guardian.
Manafort’s secret meeting with the head of WikiLeaks in 2016 was one of three meetings Manafort had with Assange while he’s been in hiding in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, the paper reports. The Guardian states the other two meetings happened in 2013 and 2015.
The Guardian only reports that Manafort met with Assange in the spring of 2016, with a tentative date given of just “March.” Manafort officially joined Trump’s effort on March 29, 2016, and was hired to help with Trump’s delegate-wrangling at the upcoming Republican National Convention.
In May, Manafort was officially promoted to campaign chairman.
The timing of Assange and Manafort’s meeting is certainly suspicious. However, WikiLeaks’ dissemination of hacked emails and communications from the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign did not occur until the summer of 2016.
The Guardian reviewed an internal document at the embassy that listed “Paul Manaford” [sic] as a returning guest and spoke with a source at the embassy who confirmed the spring 2016 visit and detailed Manafort’s outfit.
In a statement in advance of publication, WikiLeaks called the reports false.
SCOOP: In letter today to Assange's lawyers, Guardian's Luke Harding, winner of Private Eye's Plagiarist of the Year, falsely claims jailed former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had secret meetings with Assange in 2013, 2015 and 2016 in story Guardian are "planning to run". pic.twitter.com/ZEw7Hjwtki— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) November 27, 2018
Manafort’s lawyers declined to comment on the story. You can read the Guardian‘s whole report here.