Embattled ex-Trump aide Paul Manafort met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange around the time he was appointed to his high-profile post atop the President’s campaign, according to a report Tuesday.
Manafort held a private conversation with Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London in March 2016, just months before WikiLeaks published thousands of emails stolen from Democrats by Russian hackers, The Guardian reported. His visit was not logged with guards as is typical for such face-to-face meetings.
President Trump hired Manafort to run his White House bid the same month.
Both Manafort and Assange denied the report.
“Remember this day when the Guardian permitted a serial fabricator to totally destroy the paper’s reputation,” Wikileaks tweeted shortly after the publication of the report. “[Wikileaks] is willing to bet the Guardian a million dollars and its editor’s head that Manafort never met Assange.”
Assange has been living at the Ecuadorian embassy since seeking political asylum in 2012.
According to The Guardian, Manafort also met with Assange in both 2013 and 2015.
The report comes a day after special counsel Robert Mueller said in court papers that Manafort lied to investigators and violated his recent plea deal. It’s unclear what Manafort lied about.
Mueller has been investigating the longtime Trump associate as part of a larger probe into Russian election meddling and possible coordination between the President’s campaign and the Kremlin.
WikiLeaks has been central to the narrative after it published emails stolen
The Guardian cited an internal document written by Ecuador’s Senain intelligence agency, which lists Manafort and “Russians” as guests of Assange.
Manafort is currently serving time in a Virginia jail after his August conviction of bank and tax fraud stemming from Mueller’s probe.
Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani told the Daily News that Trump knew nothing of the alleged clandestine meeting between Manafort and Assange when he hired the 69-year-old GOP consultant.
“I don’t know about it and if I don’t know about it, he doesn’t know it,” Giuliani told the Daily News. “The President knows very little of Julian Assange.”
Giuliani also said the President hasn’t ruled out pardoning Manafort, although he stressed there hasn’t been any recent discussions on the matter.
“Pardons are never really ruled out,” Giuliani said.
Trump has railed against the special counsel probe since Mueller’s appointment last year, often calling the investigation a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.”
Mueller has reportedly been investigating possible contacts between WikiLeaks and a slew of Trump associates including Roger Stone and his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.
Stone, who reportedly recommended Trump hire Manafort and tweeted out cryptic notes during the lead up to the election, has denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly said publicly he had no knowledge of where the Democratic emails came from.
On Tuesday, he further denied any knowledge of Manafort, his onetime business partner, and Assange meeting one-on-one.
“This is the first I have heard about it and I have no idea whether or not it is true,” he told The News.
Mueller has been interviewing Stone associates for months. Conspiracy theorist and Stone pal Jerome Corsi said Monday he is rejecting a plea deal from the special counsel’s office and expects to be indicted.