Manafort denies meeting WikiLeaks' Assange

Courtesy: ZUMA Press / MGN
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort (all times local):

3:40 p.m.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is denying that he ever met WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Manafort says in a statement that a Guardian report saying he met with Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy is "totally false and deliberately libelous." Manafort says that he has never been contacted by "anyone connected to WikiLeaks, either directly or indirectly."

He also says the Guardian published the story after being told by Manafort's representatives that it was false.

The British newspaper reported that Manafort met with Assange "around March 2016," the same month he joined the Trump campaign. The newspaper also said that Manafort had met with Assange previously in 2013 and 2015.

The report didn't identify the sources for its reporting.

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2:45 p.m.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says she's unaware of any conversations about a potential pardon for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Prosecutors with special counsel Robert Mueller's office accused Manafort on Monday of lying to them and said he had violated a plea agreement struck in September.

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani (joo-lee-AH'-nee) had previously suggested Manafort and others could be eligible for pardons at the end of Mueller's Russia investigation. The allegation Manafort had lied to prosecutors in the last two months has fueled speculation he might be angling for a pardon.

Manafort cut a deal with prosecutors in September, agreeing to plead guilty to two felonies and cooperate with Mueller's team "fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly."

Manafort's lawyers have denied that he misled investigators.

Sanders spoke at the White House on Tuesday.

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Noon

A British newspaper alleges that Paul Manafort secretly met WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London within days or weeks of being brought aboard the Donald Trump presidential campaign.

If confirmed, the report Tuesday suggests a direct connection between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, which released tens of thousands of emails stolen by Russian spies during the 2016 election.

The campaign seized on the emails to undermine Trump's rival, Hillary Clinton.

The Guardian, which did not identify the sources for its reporting, said that Manafort met with Assange "around March 2016" — the same month that Russian hackers began their all-out blitz to steal emails from the Clinton campaign.

Manafort's lawyers did not immediately return messages from The Associated Press.
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8:30 a.m.

A day after President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was accused of violating a plea agreement in the Russia investigation, Trump is accusing special counsel Robert Mueller of "ruining lives."

Trump tweeted Tuesday that he thinks the media "builds Bob Mueller up as a Saint."

Trump says that when the Mueller investigation ends it will become evident that people were treated "horribly" and "viciously" and that people's lives are being ruined for refusing to lie. Trump apparently was referring to conservative author Jerome Corsi, who says he rejected a plea because it would have forced him to falsely admit that he lied to investigators.

Mueller on Monday accused Manafort of violating his plea agreement by repeatedly lying to federal investigators. Manafort denies lying.

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12:10 a.m.

Special counsel Robert Mueller says former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort violated his plea agreement by repeatedly lying to federal investigators in the Russia probe.

The torpedoing of Manafort's plea deal could expose him to a lengthier prison sentence and potentially more criminal charges. It also means that Mueller's team is losing a cooperating witness from the top of Donald Trump's presidential campaign who was present for several key episodes under investigation.

Manafort denies that he lied, and his attorneys say he believes he "provided truthful information."

Manafort had been meeting with the special counsel's office since he pleaded guilty in September and agreed to cooperate. He remains jailed while awaiting his sentence. He faces multiple years in prison.



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