US investigators will on Friday begin to question diplomatic staff who were stationed at the Ecuadorian embassy in London during WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s years-long stay about his visitors, according to the whistleblower group.
It follows international subpoenas from the US Department of Justice, which is probing a report that President Donald Trump’s disgraced former 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort held secret talks there with Assange, Wikileaks said.
The Justice Department, which declined to comment on the matter, wants to talk to six staff members from the embassy and will start to interview them in the Ecuadorian capital Quito on Friday, it added.
Britain’s The Guardian newspaper claimed in November that Manafort — who was convicted of multiple charges including bank fraud and money laundering in two separate cases last year — met Assange on several occasions from 2013 to 2016.
The period coincided with Manafort becoming a key figure in Trump’s bid for the White House and preceded Wikileaks publishing thousands of emails allegedly stolen by Russian hackers from the rival Democratic campaign of Hillary Clinton.
Assange, Manafort and Ecuadorian officials have denied the report, noting Manafort does not appear in the embassy’s visitor logs.
But it prompted a group of leading Democratic senators in the US to demand in December that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo probe the claim and report back.
Wikileaks said the US request was sent from the Justice Department to its Ecuadorian counterpart on January 7, which approved the request “although it is highly unusual to permit foreign interrogations of former diplomatic officials over their diplomatic work.”
Assange, who gained international renown by releasing huge caches of hacked State Department and Pentagon files, has been holed up in the London embassy since 2012 citing fears that Britain would extradite him to the US to face charges there.
Trump staff sent home early as White House braces for another night of protests
After a third night of unrest in Washington D.C., Mayor Muriel E. Bowser announced another curfew for Monday night, saying, "We’re prepared for multiple days of demonstrations.” The curfew will begin at 7 p.m. Monday and run through Tuesday morning.
According to reports, the White House will be shutting down accordingly, with only the most senior staffers staying on.
"Sources tell me the White House told all staffers who don’t need to be there to leave by 4 pm ET today due to planned protests," CNN's Jake Tapper tweeted. "I’m told by a source that White House senior staff will continue working."
Louisville police chief fired after mayor determines body cameras were off during David McAtee shooting
On Monday, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced that the chief of the city's police department has been relieved of duty, effective immediately.
The move comes after the body cameras of Louisville police officers involved in the fatal shooting of David McAtee, a local Black businessman, had not been active.
🚨 Mayor of #Louisville: The body cameras of those involved in the shooting last night that killed David McAtee were NOT active.
LISTEN: Charlamagne Tha God clashes with ‘delusional’ Rush Limbaugh in debate over George Floyd’s killing and white privilege
During an interview with Rush Limbaugh this Monday, Charlamagne Tha God called out the conservative radio host for his white privilege and asked him why he's choosing to speak out on George Floyd's killing while there have been countless examples of police violence against black people.
“I know that you’re going to disagree with me on this — to me this is not America,” Limbaugh said, adding that he thinks the U.S. is the greatest country in the world.
But according to Charlamagne, America is only great for some people.
“I think it’s easy for you to say because you’re a white male and that comes with a different level of privilege,” Charlamagne said. “And I do think America does work but it works for the people it was designed to work for. It doesn’t work for everyone else the way it works for you.”