Manafort Tried To Reach Deal With Ecuador In 2017 About Giving Up Assange

at Embassy Of Ecuador on May 19, 2017 in London, England.  Julian Assange, founder of the Wikileaks website that published US Government secrets, has been wanted in Sweden on charges of rape since 2012.  He sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and today police have said he will still face arrest if he leaves.
Jack Taylor/Getty Images Europe

In May 2017, Paul Manafort met with then-incoming Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno to broker a deal that involved Chinese investment in Ecuador’s power system and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, The New York Times reported. 

Manafort was reportedly primarily interested in earning some commission from China if he was able to pull off the arrangement — in order to pay off some legal bills — but the discussions quickly shifted to Assange’s fate. According to three people familiar with the conversations who spoke to the Times, Moreno suggested a possible swap in at least two meetings with Manafort; trading Assange — who’s been living in Ecuador’s Embassy in London for at least six years — for some type of financial break from the U.S.

Talks dissolved after it became evident that Manafort’s financial dealings were a focal point of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. There’s no indication that the meeting played any role in the Russia election interference investigation, according to the Times.

Manafort’s spokesman Jason Maloney did not dispute the Times report and told NBC News in a statement that while Moreno raised the possibility of an Assange deal, Manafort made no promises.

Read the full Times report here.

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