The lobbyist for a sanctioned Russian oligarch visited Julian Assange, the Wikileaks head currently holed up in London’s Ecuadorian embassy, numerous times last year.
But no one knows why.
The Guardian reported Wednesday that visitor logs at the Ecuadorian embassy show that Adam Waldman, the longtime lobbyist for sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, stopped by to visit Assange a total of nine times last year, more than nearly anyone else.
Waldman’s visits bookended Trump’s 2017 inauguration, with the most recent stop by the embassy coming last November.
Neither Waldman nor Deripaska responded to the Guardian’s questions about the nature of Waldman’s visits. Assange, who recently had his Twitter access revoked by the Ecuadorian government, has also not commented.
Wow. Adam Waldman, a lobbyist for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, visited Julian Assange nine times at the Ecuadorian embassy in London last year. To discuss what? (When I worked at State, Waldman regularly shilled for Deripaska to try to get him a visa). https://t.co/gTJhXt0oe2
— Michael Carpenter (@mikercarpenter) June 20, 2018
While it’s unclear what Assange and Waldman — or potentially Assange and Deripaska — may have discussed during these frequent visits, Deripaska has featured prominently in questions about potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Deripaska, an aluminum magnate who had previously said that he does not consider himself separate from the Russian government, had extensive business dealings with former Trump campaign adviser Paul Manafort, who is currently in solitary confinement and facing numerous charges of witness tampering and obstruction of justice.
In April, the Treasury Department sanctioned Deripaska, who had previously been denied a U.S. visa on account of suspected ties to organized crime. “There are also allegations that Deripaska bribed a government official, ordered the murder of a businessman, and had links to a Russian organized crime group,” the Treasury Department release noted.
As The Guardian’s report added, Waldman has also worked in the past for Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in efforts to get Deripaska a visa.
As part of Waldman’s attempts to improve Deripaska’s image, he recently wrote a conspiracy-laden op-ed for The Daily Caller about the so-called “Russia narrative” in the U.S. Rather than identify Deripaska as a Russian tycoon close to the Kremlin, The Daily Caller simply referred to him as “the founder of UC Rusal, a large Russian aluminum company.” Sources indicated to The Guardian that Waldman, who received over a half-million dollars from Deripaska last year, helped get the op-ed published.
Both Assange and Wikileaks have been a font of pro-Russian conspiracies of their own over the past few years, such as pushing Moscow’s line when it comes to who actually shot down flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014. Both Wikileaks and Assange have also been widely accused of collaborating with Russian hackers who stole emails pertaining to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 23, 2014
Assange’s numerous meetings with Deripaska’s lobbyists will only add to the questions surrounding Assange’s motivations.
Nor is Deripaska the only figure in the ongoing investigation into potential collusion whose new ties to Assange have recently surfaced. Emails from longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone indicate Stone had prior knowledge of Wikileaks’ 2016 release of the stolen emails — with one email revealing Stone even shared a meal with Assange.
Stone, who refused to divulge any information about his contacts with Wikileaks during testimony before the House Intelligence Committee last fall, has repeatedly lied about the content of both emails and tweets he sent. But as he noted in one email when discussing Clinton’s lead in an August 2016 poll, “enjoy it while u can. I dined with my new pal Julian Assange last nite.”