Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Got Paranoia? Disclaimer

Ecuadorian Embassy, Knightsbridge, AP Photo/Sang Tan, August 2012. Funny to think it's really been that long.

I should have emphasized—and didn't even really mention—that Luke Harding's Assange story hasn't yet been corroborated by any other news organization, except for one compelling detail on the Ecuador angle:
CNN contributor Carl Bernstein reported Tuesday that Mueller's team has been investigating a meeting between Manafort and Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno in Quito in 2017 and has specifically asked if WikiLeaks or Assange was discussed in the meeting, according to a source with personal knowledge of the matter.
That's an important exception, because quite a bit of the story seems to have been sourced in Ecuador, in particular these—

A separate internal document written by Ecuador’s Senain intelligence agency and seen by the Guardian lists “Paul Manaford [sic]” as one of several well-known guests. It also mentions “Russians”....
Manafort’s 2016 visit to Assange lasted about 40 minutes, one source said, adding that the American was casually dressed when he exited the embassy, wearing sandy-coloured chinos, a cardigan and a light-coloured shirt.
Visitors normally register with embassy security guards and show their passports. Sources in Ecuador, however, say Manafort was not logged.
That is there's at least one source from Senain itself, and one who's claiming to have seen the embassy's security video, and if one of those sources is the one who came up with the story of what happened in the Manafort-Moreno meeting, then that's a source who has demonstrated some reliability.

I want to make it clear that there are a lot of doubters, including Emptywheel, and this reminder from Joe Pompeo at Vanity Fair:
 It’s worth noting that British sourcing conventions generally are not as rigid as they are in the U.S., where newspapers like, say, the Times and Post—which have led the charge on Mueller scoops—would at the very least be required to identify “people familiar with the matter” or “people with knowledge of the matter.” 
But I was intrigued by this agnostic reference to the story from Senator Blumenthal

and the denial by WikiLeaks itself, which unnecessarily calls Luke Harding a "serial fabricator"
(really? I can't find any evidence that he's ever fabricated anything up to now).

and the very odd format of Giuliani's denial: It wouldn't have mattered if it had happened, but he doesn't know if it happened, and Donald definitely doesn't known if it happened:
WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump does not know whether his former campaign chairman ever met with Julian Assange before Assange released stolen emails in an effort to help him win the presidency, Trump’s lawyer said Tuesday.
“I have no idea if Paul Manafort met with Julian Assange. The president has no idea if Paul Manafort met with Julian Assange,” Rudy Giuliani told HuffPost, adding that it wouldn’t prove anything nefarious even if Manafort had done so. “I don’t care if he met Assange over the years. I know there were no conversations between the president and Manafort about Assange.”
[Narrator: If the story is true, there's little reason to think Trump might know much of anything at the detail level, including who was communicating with whom. You know who knows? Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi. And Giuliani knows too.]

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