Manafort Denies Meeting WikiLeaks’s Assange, Calling Newspaper Story ‘Libelous’
Paul Manafort, a former campaign manager for Donald Trump, who is currently in jail and facing sentencing in financial crimes, denied meeting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London or at any other time. His denial follows a Nov. 27 story in the Guardian alleging a Manafort-Assange meeting.
In a statement released by his spokesperson, Manafort said:
This story is totally false and deliberately libelous. 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 reached out to Assange or Wikileaks on any matter. We are considering all legal options against the Guardian who proceeded with this story even after being notified by my representatives that it was false.
Meanwhile, The Guardian updated its story shortly after its original publication, adding hedges to the original version. A site that tracks changes in stories over time, News Sniffer, shows that an hour after initial publication, the newspaper added “sources say” to its headline, and increasing the speculative tone in two paragraphs. A section that cited “according to two sources” now says “according to the sources.”
The Guardian added Manafort’s denial following the release of his statement later in the day.
Earlier in the day, WikiLeaks used Twitter to deny that any meetings took place.
Federal prosecutors said Nov. 26 in a court filing that Manafort had lied to them on various matters following a strict plea bargain agreement to avoid a trial on several financial and foreign lobbying charges. Manafort’s attorneys say he was truthful.