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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.com

Cambridge Analytica, the Trump campaign’s data firm, harvested private information from more than 50 million unwitting Facebook users in what is being described as one of the largest data breaches in the social media giant’s history.

That data — taken without authorization — was used to build a digital operation that guided Trump’s campaign for the presidency, according to a pair of bombshell reports published Saturday by the New York Times and The Observer of London.

The revelation that a firm working for a U.S. presidential candidate stole personal data from millions of Americans has sparked outcry across the country. Within hours of being published, the explosive reports had already prompted at least one state attorney general to launch an investigation into the allegedly fraudulent practices.

But Trump, whose campaign paid Cambridge Analytica nearly $6 million for its work, has not said a word about the massive scandal engulfing the data company that the campaign once touted as integral to Trump’s victory.

His silence on the matter raises a host of startling questions, particularly given that he has already started making moves to organize his re-election campaign — and until he says otherwise, it’s reasonable to wonder if he plans to rely on the firm again.

The Trump campaign hired Cambridge Analytica in June 2016. Jared Kushner, who was in charge of overseeing then-candidate Trump’s digital operations, brought the data firm into the campaign — a decision that was reportedly cheered on by Steve Bannon, a former vice president of Cambridge Analytica.

The data firm, which has always been shrouded in secrecy, later came under scrutiny amid a number of alarming revelations, including a report that Cambridge Analytica’s CEO had reached outto WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in an effort to obtain Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails.

In another instance, Cambridge Analytica reportedly offered to help WikiLeaks organize emails that had been hacked from the DNC and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta to make them more accessible to readers.

Amid all of these revelations, Trump has remained silent. While his campaign has quietly tried to distance itself from the data firm, no one has given any indication that they have a problem with the allegedly fraudulent — and potentially illegal — practices that were used to help Trump win the presidency.

And if Trump doesn’t see a problem with the company’s practices, there’s no reason to believe that he won’t use them again in 2020 — that is, if special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation doesn’t put an end to them first.