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Report: Paul Manafort may have visited Julian Assange in 2016 before WikiLeaks released Dem emails

Paul Manafort arrives for a hearing at US District Court on June 15, 2018 in Washington, D.C. The Guardian has reported that Manafort visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2016 about the time be became President Trump's campaign chairman. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

According to a report from The Guardian, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange multiple times, including shortly before WikiLeaks released hacked emails from the Clinton campaign and the DNC.

However, the accusations by The Guardian have yet to be verified by other news sources.  Manafort has also called them “100% false.”

Here's what we know

Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012. He went there demanding political asylum after he failed to block his extradition to Sweden where he was wanted on rape charges. Authorities in London have said that they will arrest him if he leaves the embassy. U.S. officials have also prepared charges against Assange.

According to The Guardian, Manafort first visited Assange in 2013. The source for this is an internal document written by Ecuador’s Senain intelligence agency, which lists a “Paul Manaford” as one of several of Assange's guests. Two sources confirmed to The Guardian that they saw Manafort enter the embassy during this time period.

Manafort would allegedly return in 2015.

In 2016, Manafort reportedly visited the embassy again, possibly in March. This is based on testimony to The Guardian from a “well-placed source.”

Manafort joined the Trump campaign in late March 2016, and by May had been promoted to campaign chairman. The Associated Press reported Aug. 18, 2016, that Manafort had lobbied in the U.S. on behalf of politicians in Ukraine without disclosing to the U.S. government that he was working as a foreign agent. The next day, President Donald Trump announced that Manafort had resigned from the campaign.

Anything else?

Also in March, at the end of the month, Russian hackers successfully sent a spearphishing email to Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The next month they hacked into the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee. In June, WikiLeaks released emails obtained from these hacks.

WikiLeaks has denied that these meetings ever happened, saying in a tweet that it was “willing to bet the Guardian a million dollars and its editor's head that Manafort never met Assange.”

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The Ecuadorian Embassy in London has isolated Assange and since March has prevented him from seeing most visitors, but there are a few exceptions to that rule.

In mid-November, reporters with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica were allowed to visit him, as they have been every year he has been there. La Repubblica reported that Assange decided that life in the embassy was so lonely that it wasn't healthy for his cat and sent “embassy cat” elsewhere. Assange's internet access was also cut in March.

Manafort has been at the heart of several unresolved threads of the Robert Mueller investigation. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy and witness tampering on Sept. 14, almost a year after he was first charged and following his conviction by a jury in a separate but related case on eight tax and banking crimes.
One last thing…
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