WASHINGTON—Downplaying reports that his former campaign chairman may have collaborated with the controversial Wikileaks founder in 2016, President Trump said Tuesday that Paul Manafort and Julian Assange did indeed meet on occasion to discuss how collusion was a bad thing they would “never, ever” do. “Sure, they met a few times, but the only thing they ever talked about was how much they hate collusion and anyone who participates in collusion,” the president told reporters, saying both Manafort and Assange had assured him their meetings in London’s Ecuadorean embassy had been called for the sole purpose of outlining all the different ways people can engage in collusion and all the reasons why it was illegal and immoral to do so. “I firmly believe this was nothing more than two good, honest men clarifying to each other how disgraceful it would be to coordinate their efforts to tamper with an election, because that sort of behavior is clearly wrong. They may also have spoken of how completely disgusted they would be if someone were to obtain the emails of an opponent’s political campaign and then publish them. But that’s it. The conversations stopped there.” Trump added that several other members of his campaign staff may have held meetings to iron out the details of their own firm anti-collusion stances, including his son Donald Trump Jr.
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