A wealthy mega-donor who supported Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign attempted to buy access to then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails but ultimately decided that the venture would leave her open to “legal liabilities.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, a data-analytics company employed by the Trump campaign informed Republican donor Rebekah Mercer that it had contacted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about obtaining the stolen emails.
The Journal reported:
In an email sent in late July 2016 and recently reviewed by the person, Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix told other employees at the firm and Rebekah Mercer, a top Republican donor, that he had recently reached out to Mr. Assange to offer help better indexing the messages WikiLeaks was releasing to make them more easily searchable. Those emails included a trove of messages stolen from Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta’s account and from the Democratic National Committee.
During the same period, Trump called for Russia to release Clinton’s deleted emails. And the GOP candidate repeatedly praised WikiLeaks, which released thousands of other Democratic emails that were thought to have been stolen by the Russian government.
The paper went on to say that Mercer eventually worried that the effort was exposing the group to legal jeopardy.
The Wall Street Journal noted:
The Mercers donated about $2 million to groups backing Mr. Trump’s campaign, according to campaign finance records. They were also instrumental in Mr. Trump’s third, and final, major campaign shake-up, when he installed Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway—who are both close to the Mercers—to lead the effort.
Mr. Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, sat on the board of Cambridge Analytica before entering the administration.
Mr. Nix’s outreach to Mr. Assange didn’t reference the 33,000 emails that Mrs. Clinton said were deleted from the private server she used as secretary of state, according to the person familiar with the exchange. But others close to the campaign considered or were actively searching for them.
Ms. Mercer and a person close to her had a brief conversation regarding Mrs. Clinton’s deleted emails in June 2016, a month after Mr. Cruz had dropped out of the race, the person said. The person said they discussed whether it would make sense to try to access and release those emails, but ultimately decided that looking for them would create “major legal liabilities” and would be a “terrible idea.”
Watch a January Wall Street Journal report on the Mercer family below.