Ten days ago, it was Facebook who finally confirmed what so many of us had long suspected: the Donald Trump campaign cheated to win the 2016 election. The social network announced that the Trump campaign’s data firm Cambridge Analytica had stolen user data from fifty million Facebook users. This was no different than Richard Nixon hiring burglars to steal DNC documents from the Watergate complex. Now Trump’s election cheating scandal has grown even uglier.
There is a metric ton of existing evidence that the Trump campaign and Russia were conspiring to cheat in the election, from the endless secret and lied-about meetings, to Donald Trump’s confession that he was seeking dirt about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government. But even as we await outright proof that Trump and Russia really were cheating, we finally have proof that Trump was cheating domestically by stealing Facebook user data for strategic voter targeting reasons. Now it turns out that domestic cheating scandal is more international than previously known.
Former employees of Cambridge Analytica have revealed to the Washington Post that the company was sending foreign nationals to the United States to work with Republican presidential candidates as early as 2014. This is flatly illegal. Moreover, the leaders of the company, Steve Bannon and billionaire backer Rebekah Mercer, knew this was going on, and knew it was illegal.
Thus far Cambridge Analytica’s only confirmed connection to Russia is a suspicious meeting with a Russian oil firm, which became even more suspicious when the head of Cambridge Analytica lied about the meeting while testifying before British Parliament. But even as we await proof that Cambridge Analytica was conspiring with Russia as part of its election cheating plot, we now know that the firm was illegally cheating by using foreign nationals. It’s difficult to see how Bannon and Mercer aren’t indicted over this – and that’s just based on what’s come out publicly so far.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report