Mueller Targets Trump Campaign’s Data Operation — And The RNC: Report
Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly zeroing in on the Trump campaign’s data operation and has begun to question Republican National Committee staffers about the party’s digital work with the Trump campaign last year, Yahoo News reports.
The revelation indicates that Mueller may be probing yet another facet of Russia’s election interference — its social media influence campaign and targeted political advertising, which helped President Donald Trump’s campaign team target voters in critical swing states.
Citing two sources familiar with the matter, Yahoo News reported that Mueller’s team is examining whether the joint RNC-Trump campaign data operation — which was directed on Trump’s side by Brad Parscale and managed by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner — “was related to the activities of Russian trolls and bots aimed at influencing the American electorate.”
Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner managed the Trump campaign’s data operation and recently hired a crisis public relations firm to handle all press inquiries.
The FBI has been scrutinizing Kushner’s contacts in December 2016 with the Russian ambassador to the US and the CEO of a sanctioned Russian bank.
As noted in the report, “it is not surprising that federal investigators have begun to examine the possibility that Russia and the Trump campaign helped each other during the election. Investigators have been looking into whether Russia provided the campaign with voter information stolen by Russian hackers from election databases in several states, and whether the Trump campaign helped Russia target its political ads to specific demographics and voting precincts.”
Investigators have long wondered whether the data-mining and analysis firm Cambridge Analytica served as a link between the campaign’s data operation and Russia.
That scrutiny intensified following revelations that Cambridge CEO Alexander Nix reached out to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in June 2016 asking for access to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s “stolen” emails.
The special counsel’s office declined to comment on its ongoing investigation. Multiple requests to various current and former RNC officials on Wednesday went unanswered.