Manafort slams Guardian story as 'totally false,' 'libelous'

Manafort slams Guardian story as 'totally false,' 'libelous'
© Greg Nash

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortFive things to know about the Trump inauguration investigation Trump: Sessions 'should be ashamed of himself' for allowing Russia probe to proceed Mueller probe has cost more than M so far MORE on Tuesday strongly denied a report in The Guardian that he met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange around the time he joined the Trump campaign.

"This story is totally false and deliberately libelous. I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected to him," Manafort said in a statement through his attorney.

"I have never been contacted by anyone connected to Wikileaks, either directly or indirectly," he continued. "I have never 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.”

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The British paper published a story on Tuesday morning that said Manafort met with Assange multiple times before the presidential election, as early as 2013 and as late as spring of 2016. The two men reportedly met inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where Assange had claimed asylum in an effort to avoid legal troubles.

In the spring of 2016, WikiLeaks released a tranche of hacked emails from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

WikiLeaks similarly denied The Guardian's report, tweeting that it would bet "a million dollars and its editor's head that Manafort never met Assange."

The report, and Manafort's subsequent denial, came less than 24 hours after special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE said in a court filing that the former campaign chairman had violated the terms of his plea agreement by lying to federal prosecutors.

Mueller’s team asked the judge in Manafort's case to schedule a date for sentencing.

Manafort was convicted on eight counts of bank and tax fraud over the summer in a separate case in Northern Virginia. He agreed to cooperate with Mueller in September to avoid a second federal trial in Washington, D.C.

Mueller is said to be investigating ties between Trump associates and WikiLeaks as part of his broader investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.