The CEO of Cambridge Analytica, the secretive data firm owned in part by Republican megadonor Robert Mercer that was hired by the Trump campaign, reportedly reached out to WikiLeaks for dirt on Hillary Clinton in early June 2016 -- soon after the campaign hired them.
According to the Wall Street Journal, CA's chief executive Alexander Nix had "the office that handles his speaking engagements" reach out to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in "early June 2016" after reading reports that the organization intended to publish a trove of Clinton's emails.
Speaking at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal on Thursday, Nix said Assange denied, and that the interaction was "very benign."
Though Federal Elections Commission records show that CA didn't receive any payments from the Trump campaign until late July 2016, the Journal's investigation shows that Nix's request to Assange "came as the company was in the advanced stages of contract negotiations with the campaign and had already dispatched employees to help it."
Soon after then-campaign adviser Steve Bannon introduced Nix to the Trump campaign in May, CA sent employees to San Antonio, Texas, the home of then-candidate Donald Trump's digital operations, in early June. A contract followed them on June 13, 2016, and was signed on June 23.
On June 12, the day prior to the contract being shipped, Nix told British TV that he had emails related to Clinton that were "pending publication," the Journal revealed.
During his Web Summit appearance, Nix denied any collusion with Russia, claiming "We did not work with Russia in this election, and moreover we would never work with a third-party state actor in another country’s campaign."