Paul Manafort reportedly met with Julian Assange months before Democratic email leak

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WikiLeaks, meanwhile, quickly denied the Guardian's report, indicating Manafort never met with Assange.

The publication says Manafort met with Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016-coinciding with the former lobbyist's tenure as the Trump campaign's chairman. The report was based on unnamed sources and the outlet noted that the embassy has no record of Manafort's alleged 2016 visit. And weeks before that, his son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and Manafort had met with Russians at Trump's campaign headquarters in NY after the Russians had promised "dirt" on Clinton.

As whistleblower advocate Naomi Colvin and others pointed out, official Ecuadorian embassy visitor logs make no mention of any Manafort appearances, let alone the three separate appearances reported by the Guardian.

There was no detail on what might have been discussed.

On Monday, however, United States prosecutors said in a court filing that Trump's former campaign chairman breached his plea deal by lying to federal investigators.

An AP investigation into Russian hacking shows that government-aligned cyberspies began an aggressive effort to penetrate the Clinton campaign's email accounts on March 10, 2016.

On 16 November, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed its motion requesting Judge Brinkema unseal the complaint against Mr Assange.

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The WikiLeaks founder has been holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London for the past six years to avoid sexual assault charges in Sweden.

Now that any doubt about those charges has been removed, there no longer exists a reason to keep the charges against him secret, lawyer Katie Townsend argued.

But prosecutors and the judge noted that U.S. charges are never ordinarily released until after an arrest.

The apparent criminal complaint emerged earlier this month when papers from the Eastern District of Virginia federal court stated "Assange has been charged", though he was not listed as a defendant in that case.

"It's clearly timed to try to counteract the positive press that's been coming out in the recent days and weeks in support of Julian and WikiLeaks and particularly around this court hearing", she said.

"This is an interesting case, to say the least", Brinkema said. They recently placed restrictions on his use of the embassy, including a requirement that he clean up after his cat.

Any such meeting would no doubt come under investigation by Robert Mueller, the special counsel looking into potential collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign in the 2016 election. Baldwin wanted to know whether the developments with Manafort meant prosecutors could prove something like the allegations revealed by the Guardian.