Paul Manafort Met With Julian Assange Months Before WikiLeaks Published DNC Emails

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The newspaper said it's unclear what Manafort and Assange discussed, but suggested the March 2016 meeting would be of great concern to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the election and any collusion on the part of Trump campaign advisers.

Paul Manafort is firing back at The Guardian following the publication of its bombshell report accusing him of having met several times with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, now calling it "totally false and deliberately libelous". The only specific details offered are related to the length of the alleged 2016 meeting-"about 40 minutes"-and Manafort's alleged attire-"sandy-colored chinos, a cardigan, and a light-colored shirt".

According to the Guardian, Manafort also met with Assange in both 2013 and 2015. His visit was not logged with guards as is typical for such face-to-face meetings.

WikiLeaks said on Twitter that it was willing "to bet. a million dollars and the editor's head" that the story was wrong and the anti-secrecy group said it was launching a legal defense fund.

After reaching a plea deal with federal prosecutors in September, Manafort lied repeatedly to investigators working for the special counsel's team while withholding information pertinent to the Russian Federation investigation, according to a court filing from Monday. Tuesday's report that Manafort visited Assange multiple times, and that he's been acquainted with the WikiLeaks founder since 2012 or 2013, paints a picture of a Trump campaign manager with close ties to the organization that published highly damaging information about Trump's opponent.

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Breitbart News will continue to cover WikiLeaks' claims against the Guardian.

Assange has been holed up at the embassy since 2012 out of fear that should he leave, he would be extradited to the United States and face charges for leaking thousands of classified documents.

Assange runs the WikiLeaks group, which the US intelligence community has concluded acted as an arm of Russian intelligence agencies working to help elect Trump in 2016 at the direction of that country's authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin. The list, according to the newspaper, also mentions "Russians". The next month they hacked into the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee.

That dispute is playing out amid sometimes feverish speculation within Washington, D.C., that Mueller's investigation may be on the verge of unveiling more criminal charges, perhaps against another sub-cast of characters centered on political consultant Roger Stone.

Manafort, 69, pleaded guilty on fraud and obstruction of justice charges on September 14 and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for a lighter prison sentence.

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