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Constitutional Freedoms

WikiLeaks Bets The Guardian a Million Bucks That Assange Never Met Manafort

Anonymously sourced report claims the men had clandestine meetings

WikiLeaks vehemently denies a bombshell report published in The Guardian on Tuesday claiming that its founder, Julian Assange, secretly met with embattled former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

The meetings allegedly took place back in 2013, 2015, and 2016.

The WikiLeaks Twitter account has been active all morning on this issue.

“Remember this day when The Guardian permitted a serial fabricator to totally destroy the paper’s reputation. @WikiLeaks is willing to bet the Guardian a million dollars and its editor’s head that Manafort never met Assange,” the WikiLeaks’ account tweeted on Tuesday.

It attached an archived version of The Guardian’s article.

By “serial fabricator,” WikiLeaks is likely referring to article authors Luke Harding and Dan Collyns, whom @AssangeLegal claims have previously bylined “bogus stories” and have “peddl[ed] entirely false Russia propaganda for months.”

As of Tuesday noon EST, the @AssangeLegal Twitter account displayed the following warning: “Caution: This account is temporarily restricted. You’re seeing this warning because there has been some unusual activity from this account. Do you [still] want to view it?”

NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker reported that Rudy Giuliani said of The Guardian’s report, “Unequivocally fake news, I am told.”

The Guardian published its report hours before an announcement that no decision was made by Judge Leonie M. Brinkemaat at a federal hearing in the Eastern District of Virginia regarding unsealing charges against Assange, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

An apparently inadvertently leaked filing shows that the Department of Justice had charged Assange with a criminal offense.

But it did not indicate what the charge was, nor when the supposed offense occurred.

Tuesday’s hearing, a decision on which was delayed, addresses whether those charges should be public information.

Last September, Paul Manafort pleaded guilty to two conspiracy-related counts stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian collusion involving President Trump and his 2016 campaign team.

Prosecutors said on Monday that Manafort lied to the FBI, and by doing so breached his plea agreement, multiple outlets reported.

It is unclear whether Manafort’s alleged, plea agreement-violating statements are related to the supposed meetings with WikiLeaks’ Assange as reported by The Guardian or not.

“After signing the plea agreement, Manafort committed federal crimes by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Counsel’s Office on a variety of subject matters, which constitute breaches of the agreement,” the three-page “Joint Status Report” filing reads, in part.

Manafort’s team, in the same filing, said the defendant “believes he has provided truthful information and does not agree with the government’s characterization or that he has breached the agreement.”

As of approximately 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, The Guardian heavily edited its original piece — and WikiLeaks has been tracking those edits in a series of tweets.

On Tuesday morning, President Trump called the Robert Mueller investigation a “phony witch hunt,” roundly criticizing the investigation for treating people “horribly and viciously” and “ruining lives for them refusing to lie.”

He added that media outlets have been treating Mueller as a “saint” despite him “doing TREMENDOUS damage to our Criminal Justice System.”

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Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and regular contributor to LifeZette.