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.
Ex-Trump official warns against president’s Iran warmongering: ‘Predictable irrationality’
On Monday, former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci warned that President Donald Trump's Iran diplomacy is in serious jeopardy.
"It’s a super serious situation, so I just want to talk very precisely," said Scaramucci. "There’s three issues going on now. One, because there’s a vacuum of leadership inside the White House. He’s more or less moved out everybody that could potentially disagree with him or offer some level of dissent. When the leader of the free world continues to use the words locked and loaded, it’s the opposite of somebody like Teddy Roosevelt. Speak softly and carry a large stick. And this is send out military threats over Twitter. It’s a precarious situation. I think it’s very, very serious."
Trump encourages China to take advantage of Jay Powell and Fed: They ‘don’t have a clue’
President Donald Trump launched a new attack against his own Federal Reserve chairman in a pair of Monday morning tweets.
The president has been publicly pressuring Fed chairman Jerome Powell to lower interest rates in hopes of staving off a recession, but the Trump appointee has so far resisted his calls.
"Producer prices in China shrank most in 3 years due to China’s big devaluation of their currency, coupled with monetary stimulus," Trump tweeted. "Federal Reserve not watching? Will Fed ever get into the game? Dollar strongest EVER! Really bad for exports. No Inflation...Highest Interest Rates..."
Internet pummels Trump for frantic demand to investigate Obama instead: ‘This is not the tweet of an innocent man’
President Donald Trump jealously raged against Barack Obama's post-presidency business deals, which includes a production agreement with Netflix -- and other social media users ridiculed his apparent envy.
Trump questioned that deal and others in a pair of tweets complaining about an impeachment inquiry launched against him last week by the House Judiciary Committee, and he suggested Congress look at Obama's business since he left the White House.
....work that way. I have a better idea. Look at the Obama Book Deal, or the ridiculous Netflix deal. Then look at all the deals made by the Dems in Congress, the “Congressional Slush Fund,” and lastly the IG Reports. Take a look at them. Those investigations would be over FAST!