Manafort met with Julian Assange ahead of 2016 leaks

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller testifies during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee

But Assistant US Attorney Gordon Kromberg said that in any legal case, "discussion of why it would be sealed can not be done in a public forum", the Washington Post reported.

In an internal document obtained by The Guardian, the country's Senain intelligence agency describes Paul Manafort as one of several well-known guests to visit Assange at London's Ecuadorian embassy, along with unspecified "Russians". The Guardian said Manafort's lawyers declined to answer its questions about the visits.

On Tuesday, he further denied any knowledge of Manafort, his one-time business partner, and Assange meeting one-on-one.

"There are genuine grounds to be cautious about the report", argued The New Republic's Jeet Heer. This is based on testimony to The Guardian from a "well-placed source".

"Visitors normally register with embassy security guards and show their passports. The information about the most newsworthy meeting (in the spring of 2016) is vaguely worded, suggesting a lack of certitude".

However, the accusations by The Guardian have yet to be verified by other news sources. "But nobody cares. People will claim it's true or not based exclusively on whether they want it to be".

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His long-standing relationship with an oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin was another reason Manafort's cooperation was seen as important to Mueller's probe.

Manafort was a long-time Republican political consultant who made tens of millions of dollars working for pro-Kremlin politicians in Ukraine before joining the Trump campaign in March 2016, promising to work for free.

Manafort says in a statement that a Guardian report saying he met with Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy is "totally false and deliberately libelous".

Aside from placing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's liberty at stake, the apparent criminal charges against the Australia native also signal the possible end of investigative journalism, Suzie Dawson, activist and president of the Internet Party of New Zealand, told Sputnik. Sources in Ecuador tell the publication that Manafort's visit to the embassy was not logged.

According to the Guardian, Manafort also met with Assange in both 2013 and 2015.

Trump talked up the emails and their contents each day at his campaign events - even though he began receiving intelligence briefings two months earlier that would have told him of the Russian involvement, and despite an October 7, 2016, public statement by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security that described WikiLeaks as a participant in the "Russian-directed efforts".

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