Bombshell Report: Paul Manafort Met Secretly With WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange

This could be big.

Andrew Harnik/AP

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.

Paul Manafort held secret talks with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, with one meeting occurring around the time the lobbyist joined President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the Guardian reported on Tuesday.

WikiLeaks strongly disputed the story, saying that Assange had never met with Manafort.

In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, Manafort denied the report. “This story is totally false and deliberately libelous,” Manafort said in a statement provided by a spokesman. “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. 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.”

According to the paper, which cites unidentified sources, Manafort met at least three times with Assange in Ecuador’s London embassy between 2013 and the spring of 2016 It is not clear why Manafort would have met with Assange or what transpired in the meetings, but the alleged sitdowns—and especially the final one, which the Guardian noted occurred in March 2016—are likely to be of intense interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. In July 2016, WikiLeaks began releasing Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers. According to the Guardian, Manafort’s lawyers did not respond to questions about their client’s alleged visits with Assange.

Manafort was convicted in August of tax fraud and other charges stemming from his work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine and its successor. In September, he pleaded guilty to other charges including money laundering in connection with his Ukrainian work and agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s inquiry. On Monday, the special counsel’s office said in a court filing that Manafort had violated his plea deal by lying to investigators.

“After signing the plea agreement, Manafort committed federal crimes by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Counsel’s Office on a variety of subject matters, which constitute breaches of the agreement,” prosecutors said in the filing. Manafort’s lawyers said he believes what he has told Mueller to be truthful and has not violated his deal.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate