A top official of Cambridge Analytica, who ran the Donald Trump presidential campaign’s data operation, reached out to data-dumping site WikiLeaks to offer help releasing Hillary Clinton’s hacked emails, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has confirmed, according to a bombshell report by the Daily Beast on Wednesday. The contact between the head of the Trump campaign’s data firm and the WikiLeaks site that published thousands of internal Clinton campaign emails stolen by Russian intelligence agency hackers marks the closest contact yet revealed between Trump and the Russia-linked hacking site.
While Assange has consistently denied that WikiLeaks received the trove of hacked Democratic emails from Russian agents last year, Mike Pompeo — the director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency who was appointed by Trump — has described WikiLeaks as “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.”
In an official U.S. intelligence assessment released in January, prior to Trump’s inauguration, the director of National Intelligence said that “the GRU relayed material it acquired from the DNC and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks. Moscow most likely chose WikiLeaks because of its self-proclaimed reputation for authenticity.” The GRU is Russia’s “Main Intelligence Directorate,” the military intelligence wing of Russia’s vast state intelligence complex.
Read the entire Daily Beast report on the Trump campaign attempt to use the allegedly Russia-linked WikiLeaks to release stolen Clinton emails by visiting this link.
According to Wednesday’s report, the head of Cambridge Analytica, Alexander Nix, contacted Assange about how WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign could help each other in releasing approximately 33,000 emails that were deleted by Hillary Clinton from her controversial private email server. The specific ways that the Trump campaign and Wikileaks could help each other, in Nix’s mind, remain unclear.
The emails were deleted legally and were not related to her work as secretary of state, according to Clinton. However, during the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly accused Clinton of doing something illegal by deleting the emails — even promising to jail Clinton over the deleted emails if he became president.
Assange confirmed to The Daily Beast that Nix had indeed contacted him about the emails, but added that the overture “was rejected by WikiLeaks.”
The deleted Clinton emails have never been released, and it is uncertain whether they even exist anymore, according to sources familiar with the Clinton email investigation, who spoke to the Daily Beast. According to the results of the FBI investigation into Clinton’s use of the private server, no evidence has ever emerged to show that Clinton’s email account on the server was compromised by hackers.
Cambridge Analytica is widely credited with providing the edge that helped Trump win the Electoral College vote and, as a result, the White House in last year’s election. The firm assembled sophisticated “psychographic” voter-targeting data allowing the campaign to micro-target voters using social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter — an edge that analysts believe was key in persuading potential Trump voters who were on the fence to go to the polls on November 8 and cast their ballots for Trump.
But earlier this month, the House Intelligence Committee investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia said that it was probing whether Cambridge Analytica may have also transmitted that sophisticated data to Russian intelligence operatives who used it in the Russian social media propaganda campaign.
Cambridge Analytica was partly owned by Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of “alt-right” political site Breitbart, who had invested up to $5 million in the data firm. Bannon also brought ultra-right-wing hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, a major financial backer of Trump’s campaign and other related political causes, into Cambridge Analytica as a top investor.
[Featured Image by Andrew Harnik/AP Images]