Paul Manafort secretly visited Julian Assange on three occasions, according to a new report from the Guardian.
The former Trump campaign manager, who is currently in a Virginia detention facility for bank fraud and other financial crimes, visited the founder of WikiLeaks in 2013, 2015, and early 2016, anonymous sources told the Guardian. It isn’t clear why Manafort was visiting Assange, who has been holed up in an Ecuadorian embassy in London for several years, but Assange released a trove of Democratic emails obtained by Russian hackers a few months after Manafort’s 2016 visit. That leak is currently the subject of at least one investigation under special counsel Robert Mueller.
Manafort has denied any involvement in the hack, but he isn’t exactly a man known for the integrity of his word. Just this week, Mueller’s team revealed that Manafort breached his plea deal due to “crimes and lies” on a “variety of subject matters.”
“After signing the plea agreement, Manafort committed federal crimes by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Counsel’s Office on a variety of subject matters, which constitute breaches of the agreement,” a document submitted to the judge overseeing Manafort’s case said. “The government will file a detailed sentencing submission to the Probation Department and the Court in advance of sentencing that sets forth the nature of the defendant’s crimes and lies, including those after signing the plea agreement herein.”
Manafort pleaded guilty in September to a slew of bank and tax fraud charges, but could still face additional charges and penalties in light of Mueller’s letter.
In response, Trump railed against the latest Mueller developments and the “terrible Gang of Angry Democrats” supporting him on Twitter.
“The now $30,000,000 Witch Hunt continues and they’ve got nothing but ruined lives,” Trump tweeted.
Trump has the power to pardon Manafort if he wishes, though he’s on thin ice with legislators watching to see how the investigation proceeds. Opponents and critics of the president worry that he fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and appointed Matt Whitaker as acting attorney general in an effort to undermine Mueller’s investigation, prompting a bipartisan effort to protect the special counsel.
Cover image: In this handout provided by Alexandria Sheriff's Office, Paul Manafort poses for a mugshot photo at the Alexandria Detention Center in Alexandria, Virginia. Manafort has been charged with money laundering and bank fraud, among other violations. (Photo by Alexandria Sheriff's Office via Getty Images)