Special counsel Bob Mueller has requested documents from a data firm that attempted to collaborate with Wikileaks while working on President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign – a firm that Jared Kushner was responsible for bringing into the campaign.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Mueller has asked Cambridge Analytica to hand over any emails relating to Trump’s 2016 campaign.
According to the report, the firm complied and provided the documents earlier this fall.
Trump’s campaign paid the firm more than $6.2 million for their work ahead of the election.
The firm is run by Alexander Nix, who reached out to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in an attempt to help track down Hillary Clinton’s missing emails during the campaign, according to The Daily Beast.
After reading a report that Wikileaks planned to release emails from Clinton’s campaign, Nix asked Assange if he “might share that information with us.”
According to CNBC, “Nix wanted to convert the missing and potentially damaging emails into a searchable database for use by the Trump campaign or a pro-Trump political action committee.”
Wikileaks confirmed that Nix approached them but said they turned down his request.
Nix was also in contact with top Trump donor Rebekah Mercer about better organizing stolen emails that were published by Wikileaks.
Nix was interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee this week.
But as Mueller probes the company’s dealings with Wikileaks, the trail may lead him to Kushner, who bragged about being the one to bring Cambridge Analytica into the fold.
“We brought in Cambridge Analytica,” Kushner told Forbes. “We basically had to build a $400 million operation with 1,500 people operating in 50 states, in five months.”
But after the firm’s contact with Wikileaks was reported, the Trump camp attempted to distance themselves from the very firm they bragged was at the heart of their victory.
In a statement, Trump campaign executive director Michael Glassner claimed that the campaign relied primarily on RNC’s operation, not Cambridge Analytica.
“Once President Trump secured the nomination in 2016, one of the most important decisions we made was to partner with the Republican National Committee on data analytics,” he said in a statement. “Leading into the election, the R.N.C. had invested in the most sophisticated data-targeting program in modern American history, which helped secure our victory in the fall. We were proud to have worked with the R.N.C. and its data experts and relied on them as our main source for data analytics.”
As Vanity Fair points out, “Glassner’s statement would appear to significantly downplay the extent of Cambridge Analytica’s involvement in the Trump campaign.”
“After Kushner and Brad Parscale, the campaign’s digital director, hired the company in the summer of 2016, it dedicated a team of employees to enhance the Trump team’s outreach on Facebook,” Vanity Fair reports.
Kushner bragged about the strategy in interviews.
I called somebody who works for one of the technology companies that I work with, and I had them give me a tutorial on how to use Facebook micro-targeting,” he told Forbes.
The company, too, took credit for helping Trump over the finish line.
“Cambridge Analytica was instrumental in identifying supporters, persuading undecided voters, and driving turnout to the polls,” they said in a press release.
Now Democrats investigating Russia’s role in the election are looking into whether the firm used their Facebook targeting to help Russia better target their propaganda campaign on Facebook.
“I think the Russians had help,” Rep. Jackie Speier told Vanity Fair. “I’ve always wondered if Cambridge Analytica was part of that.”
“Obviously, we’re looking at any of the targeting of the ads, as well as any targeting of efforts to push out the fake or false news or negative accounts against Hillary Clinton to see whether they demonstrate a sophistication that would be incompatible with not having access to data analytics from the campaign,” added Rep. Adam Schiff. “At this point, we still don’t know.”