Posts tagged with "Asylum"

In 2016, Manafort held secret talks with Wikileaks’ Assange in Ecuadorian embassy

November 28, 2018

President Donald Trump’s former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he had sought asylum—and visited around the time he joined Trump’s campaign, The Guardian reported on November 27.

Manafort’s March 2016 visit to Assange lasted about 40 minutes, a source told the news outlet. Just two months later, in June 2016, WikiLeaks emailed Russian intelligence (the GRU) via an intermediary—seeking DNC materials. After failed attempts, Vladimir Putin’s spies sent the Democrats’ documents in mid-July to WikiLeaks as an encrypted attachment.

What’s more, this was not Manafort’s first visit to Assange. The Guardian’s “well-placed” source said that Manafort previously had visited Assanage at the embassy in 2013 and 2015.

Indeed, The Guardian reported, Manafort’s acquaintance with Assange goes back at least five years, to late 2012 or 2013, when the American was working in Ukraine and advising its Moscow-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych.

However, it is the 2016 encounter that is especially likely to come under scrutiny by Russia investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Just this week, Mueller said that Manafort had “repeatedly lied to the FBI” after he promised to cooperate with the probe in mid-September. The former campaign manager now has been referred by Mueller to the court for sentencing. Whether the secret tête-à-tête in London already has been investigated Mueller’s team is unknown.

According to The Guardian’s report, Manafort, 69, denies involvement in the hack and says the claim is “100% false”. His lawyers declined to answer the Guardian’s questions about the visits.

His defense team says he believes what he has told Mueller to be truthful and has not violated his deal.

One key question is when the Trump campaign, itself, became aware of the Kremlin’s hacking operation—and what, if anything, it did to encourage it. President Trump repeatedly has denied collusion

One person familiar with WikiLeaks said Assange was motivated to damage the Democrats campaign because he believed a future Trump administration would be less likely to seek his extradition on possible charges of espionage. This fate had hung over Assange since 2010, when he released confidential U.S. State Department cables. It contributed to his decision to take refuge in the embassy.

According to the dossier written by the former MI6 Officer Christopher Steele, The Guardian reports, Manafort was at the center of a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between the Trump campaign and Russia’s leadership. The two sides had a mutual interest in defeating Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Steele wrote, whom Putin “hated and feared.”

Research contact: @lukeharding1968

Trump alleges ‘criminals and unknown Middle Easterners’ are in migrant caravan

October 23, 2018

Blaming “our pathetic immigration laws,”—for which he claims Americans should “blame the Democrats”—President Donald Trump sent out a cluster of tweets early on October 22 saying that a caravan of migrants making their way toward the United States included “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners.”

It’s a familiar theme: At a political rally on October 19 in Mesa, Arizona covered by The New York Times, the POTUS alleged that some of the people seeking asylum in the United States from violence and bad conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras included “bad people,” “criminals,” “not little angels,” and “tough, tough people.” He did not mention Middle Easterners.

In attacking Democrats, Trump mischaracterized his political opponents as pushing for “open borders.”

“Democrats believe our country should be a giant sanctuary city for criminal aliens,” he claimed, according to the Times report.

The president also has alleged without evidence, that the Democrats actually funded the caravan of migrants heading to the United States, the news outlet said—however, there is no proof of that, the Times said.

In reaction to the caravan, Trump has threatened to use U.S. military forces at the border—and to begin separating migrant families again. He also has warned that, if the migrants are not stopped soon, he will cut off foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

The White House on Monday did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Research contact: @ESCochrane