Paul Manafort 'visited Julian Assange' at London embassy

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It's a huge blow to Manafort, who was already convicted on eight counts of bank fraud and tax evasion, and who is facing fresh media scrutiny following a report that he secretly met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London shortly before he began publishing e-mails stolen from Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman in a Russian military hacking operation.

And WikiLeaks said on Twitter that it was "willing to bet the Guardian a million dollars and its editor's head that Manafort never met Assange". It was Mueller's biggest victory to date, since Manafort could provide valuable information about any cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor and New York City mayor who is representing Trump in the Mueller probe, said Manafort's lawyer told him the Guardian story is wrong.

"I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected to him".

The Guardian, citing sources, said Manafort met with Assange in 2013, 2015 and in the spring of 2016, around the time he joined Trump's campaign.

On Monday prosecutors said in a court filing that Manafort had lied to investigators, in violation of a plea agreement he made in September.

The Guardian cited a separate internal document written by Ecuador's Senain intelligence agency which listed a "Paul Manaford" as one of Assange's guests at the embassy. The report was based on unnamed sources and the outlet noted that the embassy has no record of Manafort's alleged 2016 visit.

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Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, declined to discuss the report during Tuesday's press briefing, though she reiterated the president was not involved in any "wrongdoing" or "collusion".

Mr Assange took refuge in Ecuador's embassy in London in 2012 amid fears he could be prosecuted for Wikileaks' previous revelations of United States national security secrets.

Rudy Giuliani, lawyer to President Trump, commented on the Manafort-Assange story, saying it was "unequivocally fake news, I am told".

Trump has railed against the special counsel probe since Mueller's appointment previous year, often calling the investigation a "witch hunt" and a "hoax".

WikiLeaks has since responded to the report by declaring its publication as the moment The Guardian let a "serial fabricator" "totally destroy" the paper's credibility.

The team of journalists given access to him last week say he now spends most of his time preparing for his criminal defense against the U.S. charges.

Issa added that he believes Mueller's team is now "moving on" after accusing Manafort of the plea deal violations. That third meeting came just months before WikiLeaks released a trove of politically damaging Hillary Clinton and Democratic Party emails that had been stolen by Russian Federation.