This video is one of the many reasons Trump wants to end special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Watch it. A British public-service broadcaster conducted an undercover investigation of an important player in the Trump-Russia scandal: Cambridge Analytica.
For context, go to the Trump-Russia Timeline and select these five names on the Timeline filter: Cambridge Analytica, Steve Bannon, Facebook, the Mercer Family, and Brad Parscale. Here’s a small sample of what emerges:
JUNE 2014: Steve Bannon had figured prominently in the creation of Cambridge Analytica. He even chose the firm’s name. Funding came from a $15 million investment by conservative mega-donor Robert Mercer. Thanks to the firm’s arrangement with a Russian-American academic in Great Britain, Cambridge Analytica becomes the beneficiary of Facebook’s massive data leak. Fifty million user profiles make their way to Cambridge Analytica’s voter targeting and messaging operation.
JULY 2014: An American attorney advising the firm warns that the company’s structure and activities could violate laws prohibiting foreign influence in US elections.
BEGINNING IN JUNE 2015 AND CONTINUING THROUGH AUGUST 2017: 150 Million Americans see social media content from a Russian-government linked troll farm. Among other media vehicles supporting Trump’s election, Russians are buying geographically-targeted political ads on Facebook.
MID-MAY 2016: Bannon introduces the Trump campaign to Cambridge Analytica. The campaign is all-ears.
JUNE 2016: Jared Kushner takes control of Trump’s digital campaign and hires Cambridge Analytica. With the assistance of embedded Facebook employees, the campaign’s digital director, Brad Parscale, takes special pride in targeting and messaging particular voters. Around the same time, Cambridge Analytica’s president asks WikiLeaks to share stolen Hillary Clinton emails so his firm can help disseminate them.
AUGUST 2016: Cambridge Analytica board member Rebekah Mercer (Robert’s daughter), tells the firm’s president to contact WikiLeaks about making the Clinton emails more searchable.
AUGUST 2016: Having verified the previously reported data leak, Facebook warns Cambridge Analytica not to use the data.
NOV. 10, 2016: Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg dismisses as “crazy” the idea that Facebook could have influenced the election outcome. But two days later, a Russian politician close to Putin claims that he colluded with Cambridge Analytica and the Trump campaign to do exactly that — tip the election in Trump’s favor.
MARCH 16, 2018: Facebook admits to the 2014-2015 data leak of private user profiles and suspends Cambridge Analytica from its platform.
Then came the bombshell.
MARCH 19-20, 2018: Channel 4, a British public-service broadcaster, airs an undercover investigation that videotapes Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix explaining the firm’s methods for manipulating elections in foreign countries, including the use of bribes and sex workers (“beautiful Ukrainian girls”) to entrap politicians.
In the video, Nix says that he has met Donald Trump “many times.” Discussing Cambridge Analytica’s role in Trump’s 2016 election victory, Nix adds, “We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting. We ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign, and our data informed all the strategy.”
If American democracy is worth a 20-minute investment of your time, watch the March 20, 2018 video.
Here is a complete list of entries in this week’s Trump-Russia Timeline update:
LATE 2013: Bannon and the Beginning of Cambridge Analytica
JUNE 2014: Mercers Invest in Cambridge Analytica
JUNE 2014: Massive Facebook Data Leak Underway; Cambridge Analytica in Contact With Russians
MARCH 31, 2016: Trump Meets With Foreign Policy Advisers (revision of previous entry)
SPRING 2016: Stone Reportedly Knows That WikiLeaks Has Clinton Emails
JULY 24, 2016: Pompeo Tweets and Deletes
AUGUST 2016: Facebook Lawyers Warn Cambridge Analytica
WEEK OF OCT. 17, 2016: Stone Sends Weekly Memos to Trump
JAN. 6, 2017: Trump Receives Intelligence Briefing; Meets Comey for the First Time (revision of previous entry)
JAN. 11, 2017: Prince Meets With Putin Associate in the Seychelles (revision of previous entry)
NOV. 14, 2017: Sessions Says That He Has Not Lied About Trump Campaign Contacts With Russia (revision of previous entry)
MARCH 5, 2018: Prostitute Claims to Have Audio Recordings (revision of previous entry)
MARCH 12, 2018: Sater Is Still an FBI Source
MARCH 12, 2018: GOP Leader Announces End of House Intelligence Committee Investigation
MARCH 12, 2018: Trump Embraces GOP House Intel Committee Report
MARCH 12-13, 2018: Theresa May Blasts Putin; Tillerson Agrees; Trump Fires Tillerson
MARCH 13, 2018: Democrats Rebut GOP House Intelligence Committee Report; Republicans Backtrack
MARCH 14, 2018: Theresa May Expels 23 Russians; Putin Counters
MARCH 15, 2018: Mueller Has Subpoenaed Trump Organization
MARCH 15, 2018: Russia Has Hacked Into Critical US Infrastructure
MARCH 15, 2018: Trump Imposes New Russian Sanctions
MARCH 15, 2018: GOP Senators Ask for Another Special Counsel
MARCH 16, 2018: Sater Hits Interview Circuit
MARCH 16, 2018: Facebook Suspends Cambridge Analytica Over Data Leak
MARCH 16, 2018: Sessions Fires McCabe; Trump Tweets
MARCH 16, 2018: McCabe Has Memos; Responds to Firing
MARCH 17, 2018: Dowd Says Rosenstein Should End Mueller Probe
MARCH 17, 2018: Trump Tweets About Russia Investigation, McCabe, Comey, and Mueller
MARCH 18, 2018: Trump Tweets About Russia, McCabe, Comey, and Mueller Continue
MARCH 19, 2018: GOP Mostly Silent on Trump Attacks on Mueller; Graham: “The Beginning of the End”
MARCH 19-20: Cambridge Analytica Exposé Airs on British TV