Cambridge Analytica’s chief executive claimed he met Donald Trump many times. (Reuters: Andrew Kelly)
Cambridge Analytica executives told undercover reporters they secured Donald Trump’s presidential election victory and manipulated millions of voters with their “Defeat Crooked Hillary” campaign.
New footage released by Britain’s Channel 4 shows chief executive Alexander Nix, who was suspended by the data mining company earlier this week, saying he had met Mr Trump “many times”.
“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,” Mr Nix said.
Earlier this week Channel 4 released covert footage of a series of meetings with Cambridge Analytica executives in London hotels.
The reporters were posing as political consultants, asking the firm to come up with a plan for them to win an election in Sri Lanka.
Cambridge Analytica is alleged to have tapped the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission and used the data to help Mr Trump get elected.
In the latest footage released by Channel 4, Cambridge Analytica chief data officer Alex Tayler was shown describing how the firm helped Mr Trump to victory in 2016.
“When you think about the fact that Donald Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million votes but won the electoral college vote, that’s down to the data and the research,” Dr Tayler said.
“You did your rallies in the right locations, you moved more people out in those key swing states on election day. That’s how we won the election.”
The managing director of Cambridge Analytica’s political division, Mark Turnbull, who was also at the meeting, noted Mr Trump only won by 40,000 votes in three states.
“The margins were tiny,” Mr Turnbull said.
Cambridge Analytica rejected the latest allegations.
A spokesman told Channel 4: “CA has never claimed it won the election for President Trump. This is patently absurd. We are proud of the work we did on that campaign, and have spoken in many public forums about what we consider to be our contribution to the campaign”.
‘No paper trail’: Emails timed to self-destruct
In one of the covertly recorded meetings, Mr Turnbull said Cambridge Analytica pushed its “Defeat Crooked Hillary” campaign onto millions of social media users.
Profile picture of the Defeat Crooked Hillary Facebook page, Paid for by Make America Number 1. (Facebook: Defeat Crooked Hillary)
“The ‘OO’ of ‘Crooked’ were a pair of handcuffs and it was all about … she belongs behind bars,” Mr Turnbull said.
Mr Turnbull said the campaign was pushed through proxy organisations such as charities and activist groups.
“We just put information into the bloodstream [of] the internet and then … watch it grow,” he said.
“Give it a little push every now and again over time, to watch it take shape.
“This stuff infiltrates the online community and expands, but with no branding so it’s unattributable, untrackable.”
Mr Nix told the undercover reporters he was “absolutely convinced” US investigators had no jurisdiction to obtain information about the firm’s foreign clients.
He also instructed the reporters to set up a secure ProtonMail account, which deleted emails.
“No-one knows we have it. We set our ProtonMail emails with a self destruct timer … so that you send them, and after they’ve been read two hours later they disappear,” Mr Nix said.
“So there’s no evidence, no paper trial, there’s nothing.”
Trump campaign denies using Cambridge Analytica
According to Bloomberg, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon served as vice president and secretary of Cambridge Analytica from June 2014 to August 2016.
In August 2016, Mr Bannon became chief executive of the Trump campaign. He was fired a year later.
On Saturday Mr Trump’s campaign denied using Cambridge Analytica’s data, saying it instead relied on information from the Republican National Committee (RNC).
“The campaign used the RNC for its voter data and not Cambridge Analytica,” it said in a statement.
“Using the RNC data was one of the best choices the campaign made. Any claims that voter data were used from another source to support the victory in 2016 are false.”
Trump campaign officials downplayed Cambridge Analytica’s role, saying they briefly used the company for television advertising and paid some of its most skilled data employees.