Similarities between RNC-sponsored data farm and Russian Facebook ads seems too close to be coincidence
Given what we know today, there are several important events in the Trump election timeline that deserve re-examination.
During an interview on Wednesday night with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, author Joshua Green revealed how he was invited into the data bunker of President Donald Trump’s inner sanctum during the final months of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Green, the author of “Devil’s Bargain,” explained that he and his colleagues were there so that the campaign could show off what they were doing.
Trump’s staff “wanted to show off they had different sources with opposing” scenarios, Green said. “They had a team of Cambridge [Analytica] scientists embedded in the Trump headquarters in San Diego doing sophisticated modeling work to help to inform where the campaign was going to send Donald Trump.”
The main locations identified by the CA team were Grand Rapids and Warren, Michigan, as well as Green Bay, Wisconsin. Perhaps not uncoincidentally, The New Yorker featured a story on October 31, 2016 asking why Trump was spending all of his time in those two states specifically.
“According to the polls, Donald Trump [had] been trailing Hillary Clinton badly in Michigan and Wisconsin for months,” reporter John Cassidy wrote at the time, citing two polls that showed Clinton in the lead by seven percentage points. He cited a third poll where the margin was six points. “It’s a similar story in Wisconsin, where the past three polls have shown Clinton ahead by four points, six points, and seven points.”
Cassidy then asked why –“with just more than a week left before Election Day — is Trump campaigning in these two states?” He said that it seemed smarter to him that Trump should be in places like Florida, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio, where the polls were closer.
The Wall Street Journal also reported weeks before the election that the Trump campaign believed they could make inroads in those areas. They also claimed to “seek to create a bigger-than-expected turnout among Trump’s core demographic, and [they banked] on Democratic turnout being low.”
According to Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), the ads were generated by or linked to Moscow-linked bots — and tied to Michigan and Wisconsin. There were a few other ads in other states, but Burr specifically cited Michigan and Wisconsin.
“The campaign’s data effort was overseen by President Trump’s son-in-law and arguably his closest adviser, Jared Kushner,” wrote Will Bunch for The Philadelphia Inquirer in July.
Bunch also referred to a McClatchy report that explained that investigators at the House and Senate Intelligence committees and the Justice Department are looking into if Kushner helped guide “Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016.”
They’re specifically “focusing on whether Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states—areas where Trump’s digital team and Republican operatives were spotting unexpected weakness in voter support for Hillary Clinton, according to several people familiar with the parallel inquiries.”
The news broke Wednesday that Cambridge Analytica tried to work with Wikileaks, who was producing incriminating information hacked from the Clinton campaign as well as the Democratic National Convention. Steve Bannon also served as vice president of Cambridge Analytica until he left to join the Trump campaign.
It’s still unclear if Cambridge Analytica did or did not help the Russian bots purchase the ads, but the the Russia micro-targeting universe matched the same data Cambridge Analytica was giving to Trump in the final days of the campaign. Despite polls showing completely different numbers, both the Russian bots and the Trump campaign spent a lot of money and time in the same places. Investigators are presumably examining if they were linked.
Watch Green talk about what he saw below: