A “bombshell” story published by The Guardian on Tuesday claimed that one time 2016 Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort “secretly met” with Julian Assange of WikiLeaks before he took on his new role, but within hours of publication, the story began to disintegrate like so much fake news.
The Guardian, quoting unnamed sources, of course, reported that Manafort met with Assange at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London in 2013, 2015, and 2016. The story further claimed:
It is unclear why Manafort would have wanted to see Assange and what was discussed. But the last apparent meeting is likely to come under scrutiny and could interest Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
A well-placed source has told the Guardian that Manafort went to see Assange around March 2016. Months later WikiLeaks released a stash of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers.
For Manafort’s part, he said in a statement, “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.”
And WikiLeaks responded with a rather unique, emphatic denial, tweeting: “Remember this day when the Guardian permitted a serial fabricator to totally destroy the paper’s reputation. @WikiLeaks is willing to bet the Guardian a million dollars and its editor’s head that Manafort never met Assange.”
A million dollars and the decapitation of its editor, no less. That’s a pretty strong rebuttal.
Nevertheless, the implications of the last alleged meeting are clear.
Just as reports have surfaced in recent days that special counsel Mueller’s investigation is honing in on possible Trump campaign connections to WikiLeak’s October 2016 release of damaging emails belonging to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager John Podesta, we get this ‘made-for-scandal’ story out of the blue that hey, Manafort — a Trump guy — went to see Assange just before the emails began to be released. (Related: Why is Paul Manafort in handcuffs but Hillary Clinton isn’t?)
Though it’s “unclear why Manafort would have wanted to see Assange and what was discussed” (don’t you think those details are the real story, if there is one?), the reader is left with the assumption that it must have had something to do with the stolen/hacked emails: Did Manafort actually deliver them to Assange? Did he point the whistleblower to the trove of emails? Did he put him in contact with the Russian who really had them?
A reasonable person would expect denials from the principle actors — Manafort and Assange. But as The National Sentinel reported Tuesday, there are other reasons why this story doesn’t add up and is likely bogus.
For one, the site reported, citing Fortune magazine, Manafort was under surveillance by the FBI for all or a part of the timeframe mentioned in The Guardian article. Fortune noted:
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been under FBI surveillance since before the 2016 presidential election, CNN reported. The surveillance, which included wiretapping, searches, and other types of observation, reportedly began in 2014, when Manafort was the subject of an investigation into work done by a group of Washington consulting firms for the former ruling party of Ukraine.
He was under surveillance because at the time he was lobbying for Ukraine’s then-president, Viktor Yanukovych, and the DoJ was concerned he might be acting as an unregistered foreign agent. He was never arrested nor charged with any such activity.
But since he was under FBI surveillance, TNS reports — given what we now know of “Spygate” and the involvement of the Deep State — “who believes if it was true these secret ‘Russia-related’ meetings took place that information would not have leaked much sooner — like more than two years ago as Trump looked to lock up the GOP presidential nomination, given all of the media leaks aimed at damaging his campaign and his presidency?”
This information would have been all over The New York Times, CNN, and The Washington Post — and at the perfect time to derail Trump’s presidency. But it wasn’t.
It’s showing up now. At The Guardian.
Sorry, we’re not buying this latest heaping of fake news.
Read more about the corruption surrounding Mueller’s investigation at Corruption.news.