Ex-federal prosecutor breaks down the stunning implications of Manafort's 2016 meeting with WikiLeaks' Assange
Paul Manafort appears on 'Morning Joe' (Photo: Screen cap)

After digesting the stunning new revelations that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2016 mere days before joining the campaign, former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti has written a lengthy Twitter thread breaking down the implications.

What is most important here, writes Mariotti, is whether Assange told Manafort during the meeting of plans to hack into the Democratic National Committee's computer systems or to steal emails from Clinton campaign officials.

If Manafort had foreknowledge of the hacks and then lied about it to investigators, Mariotti writes, it could potentially make him an accessory to a crime.

"Anyone who knew about hacking a U.S. server and helped to make it succeed is guilty of aiding and abetting," he writes. "So pre-knowledge of a hacking is legally relevant because it is part of the evidence Mueller would need to prosecute someone for conspiracy or aiding and abetting."

That said, Mariotti writes that Mueller would likely need to prove that Manafort actively did something with his foreknowledge of the hacks that either helped the hackers directly or that promised the hackers rewards in the future.

"Mueller could argue that there was an understanding that the emails would be distributed and 'weaponized' by Trump associates after they were released by the Russians via WikiLeaks, but it can be hard to prove an agreement without a cooperator, tapes, or emails/texts," he writes. "In any event, while being able to prove that Manafort (or Stone or others) knew in advance of the release of hacked emails would be important legally--and no doubt important politically--it would not itself be the basis of criminal charges. But it would be a big step."

Read the whole thread below.