If true, the UK Guardian’s story about former Trump campaign manager Julian Assange is very damaging to the Wikileaks founder.
Wikileaks denies it.
The Guardian’s sourcing is vague in places.
Sources have said Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016 – during the period when he was made a key figure in Trump’s push for the White House.
A well-placed source has told the Guardian that Manafort went to see Assange around March 2016. Months later WikiLeaks released a stash of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers.
But the Guardian say it has seen documentation of the visits.
A separate internal document written by Ecuador’s Senain intelligence agency and seen by the Guardian lists “Paul Manaford [sic]” as one of several well-known guests. It also mentions “Russians”.
Seeing such a document would give Guardian editors confidence to run the story.
Another passage in the story points to Ecuadoran sources.
Manafort’s 2016 visit to Assange lasted about 40 minutes, one source said, adding that the American was casually dressed when he exited the embassy, wearing sandy-coloured chinos, a cardigan and a light-coloured shirt.
Visitors normally register with embassy security guards and show their passports. Sources in Ecuador, however, say Manafort was not logged.
Embassy staff were aware only later of the potential significance of Manafort’s visit and his political role with Trump, it is understood.
Are the documents authentic? Did the visits happen? This is what remains to be confirmed.