Manafort tried to broker deal over Assange's handover to US

Jack Taylor  Getty Images Europe

The President of Ecuador spoke with Paul Manafort about his desire to remove Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, a Manafort spokesperson confirmed Monday.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort travelled to Ecuador previous year in an effort to broker an investment deal between that country and China, his spokesman told CBS News.

Assange is wanted by both US and British authorities, making his refuge at the London embassy a sticking point between Ecuador and the two world powers.

Even if there is no evidence Mr Manafort was working with - or even briefing - President Trump or other administration officials on his discussions with Ecuadorean officers, he and WikiLeaks have both denied a recent report in The Guardian that Mr Assange was visited by Mr Manafort at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London in 2013, 2015 and 2016. Assange has been holed up at the Ecuadorian embassy, since 2012.

However, the talks ended with nothing as several days later Robert S. Mueller was appointed special counsel to probe alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 United States election. The Times said there was no indication that Trump or other administration officials were briefed by Manafort on the negotiations, but noted the incident highlighted Manafort's role as an global influence broker hoping to cash in on his ties with Trump.

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"Mr. Manafort listened but made no promises as this was ancillary to the objective of the meeting", Maloni's statement added.

"The NYT points out that there's no evidence that Manafort briefed the Trump administration on the Assange talks, or that it had anything to do with WikiLeaks" publication of a raft of Democratic Party emails allegedly stolen by "Russian spies" amid the U.S. presidential race.

This was reported by The New York Times. "There was no mention of Russian Federation at the meeting".

WikiLeaks has come under scrutiny for its 2016 publication of emails stolen from Democratic servers by Russian intelligence agents, which contained damaging information about Hillary Clinton, Trump's rival during the 2016 presidential election.

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