We now have proof that Donald Trump cheated against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election

Over the past year we’ve seen steadily mounting evidence that the Donald Trump campaign conspired with Russia to try to alter the outcome of the 2016 general election. Most of Trump’s top advisers, and some of his family members, held meetings with Russian government representatives during the campaign and then suspiciously lied about it. Even as the Trump-Russia scandal investigation has led to the criminal indictments of nineteen participants, with dozens more coming, the question all along has been whether Trump really did in fact cheat. Now we know that, yes, he did.

Facebook announced on Friday night that it was banning the Trump campaign’s voter data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica for having stolen personal data from fifty million Facebook users. This means that when the Trump campaign was deciding who and how to target with online advertising on Facebook, it was in fact cheating by using stolen data as a guidepost. This is the 21st century equivalent of Richard Nixon having hired burglars to break into the Democratic National Committee headquarters to try to steal secret information.

All along we’ve been waiting for the smoking gun that would prove the Trump campaign was using voter registration data, or DNC email data, stolen by Russian hackers. We know the Russians stole that data. We know members of the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian hackers, and with their WikiLeaks intermediary. The circumstantial evidence is overwhelming, but we have not yet seen proof that this data stolen by the Russians was in fact used by the Trump campaign. That may come out before much longer, but as of today we don’t need that proof in order to conclude that T nrump really did cheat.

The Trump campaign’s data analysis firm stole user data from fifty million Facebook users, and plotted its budget and strategy around that stolen information. That alone qualifies as cheating. Donald Trump cheated to beat Hillary Clinton. It’s official now. Even as we wait for the Russian aspect of Trump’s cheating to be confirmed, we now know that Trump was cheating with data that his campaign stole domestically. Trump didn’t legitimately win the election; his campaign committed a major crime in order to pull it off. We already knew that more than a year ago. Now we have proof.

Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report