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Ex-federal prosecutor breaks down the stunning implications of Manafort’s 2016 meeting with WikiLeaks’ Assange

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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.

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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.

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2020 Election

Trump campaign ramps up smear campaign on Obama’s ebola czar for exposing the president’s COVID-19 bumbling: report

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Trump ignored advice to tell country the coronavirus pandemic was ‘bad and could get very worse’ in early March: report

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According to a day-by-day examination of the White House efforts to get up to speed on dealing with the growing coronavirus pandemic that has now brought the country to an almost complete standstill, Politico reports that Donald Trump was advised in early March to warn the public things were about to get worse and chose to ignore that advice.

The report notes that the final realization about the dangerous spread of COVID-19 preceded the president's rare prime time address to the nation.

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Why the novel coronavirus became a social media nightmare

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The biggest reputational risk Facebook and other social media companies had expected in 2020 was fake news surrounding the US presidential election. Be it foreign or domestic in origin, the misinformation threat seemed familiar, perhaps even manageable.

The novel coronavirus, however, has opened up an entirely different problem: the life-endangering consequences of supposed cures, misleading claims, snake-oil sales pitches and conspiracy theories about the outbreak.

So far, AFP has debunked almost 200 rumors and myths about the virus, but experts say stronger action from tech companies is needed to stop misinformation and the scale at which it can be spread online.

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