Top executives at Cambridge Analytica touted their role in getting Donald Trump elected to America’s highest office, according to the latest undercover video released by Channel 4 News.
“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,” Cambridge Analytica’s CEO Alexander Nix said in the video, adding that he’d met Trump “many times.” He pointed to his firm’s use of “unattributable and untraceable” information warfare as a key differentiator, which allowed them to influence campaigns while avoiding greater government scrutiny.
Despite Nix’s boasts, Cambridge Analytica’s portion of the Trump campaign spent was comparatively limited. The Trump campaign paid the company $5.9 million during the campaign out of the roughly $325 million it spent. The pro-Trump Super PAC Make America Number One also paid Cambridge Analytica more than $1.2 million out of $19.6 million spent.
A Cambridge Analytica spokesman told Channel 4 News that it “has never claimed it won the election for President Trump. This is patently absurd.”
Still, the revelation likely proved a death knell for the CEO, who was suspended from the embattled data firm just as the latest undercover video appeared.
“In the view of the Board, Mr. Nix’s recent comments secretly recorded by Channel 4 and other allegations do not represent the values or operations of the firm and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation,” the company’s board of directors said in a statement.
The video shows Nix claiming to an undercover reporter, who was posing as a prospective client, that his firm had avoided intense scrutiny from American lawmakers because they were technologically illiterate. “They’re politicians, they’re not technical. They don’t understand how it works,” he said regarding U.S. investigations into 2016 campaign meddling. He added that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee did little inquiry into the company’s activities and only asked three questions. “After five minute — done,” he said.
Republicans on the committee recently announced that they had concluded their investigation, with Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California claiming the committee’s investigation was thorough and showed that the Trump campaign did not collude with the Russian government. “We spent 14 months on this investigation, looking for collusion. We didn’t find any,” Nunes said on Fox & Friends.
Cambridge Analytica has been mired in crisis after Christopher Wylie, a former employee, blew the whistle on how the company obtained Facebook user data of 50 million people without permission. The New York Times and The Observer of London found that Facebook investigated this violation of their privacy policies and asked Cambridge Analytica to delete the data.
Yet copies of the illegally obtained data still existed, and Facebook never followed up to ensure that the data was secure. The company also failed to inform users that their data had been obtained by an unauthorized third party, according to the reports.
Facebook’s stock is getting hammered as of this writing, and Cambridge Analytica is likely on the lookout for a new CEO.