Continued from A1...

     Laurence Levy, a lawyer with the law firm Bracewell & Giuliani, advises Rebekah Mercer, Steve Bannon, and Alexander Nix on the legality of their company, Cambridge Analytica, being involved in Elections in the United States. He advises that Nix and any foreign nationals without a green card working for the company must not be involved in any decision making regarding any work the company performs for any clients related to U.S. elections. He further advises Nix to recuse himself from any involvement with the company's U.S. election work because he is not a U.S. citizen.

2014 midterm election

     CA had entered the US market in 2012 (or 2013), and was involved in 44 US congressional, US Senate and state-level elections in the 2014 US elections.

     The company worked with the John Bolton Super PAC (political action committee) on a major digital and TV campaign focused on senate races in Arkansas, North Carolina and New Hampshire and helped turn out voters for the Republican Party candidates in those states. Two of the Republican candidates backed by the Bolton Super PAC, Thom Tillis in North Carolina and Tom Cotton in Arkansas, won their Senate bids, while Scott Brown lost in New Hampshire. The PAC ran 15 different TV advertisements each in North Carolina and Arkansas and 17 in New Hampshire, mostly online with some targeted directly to households using Dish Network and DirecTV. All were intended to push Bolton's national security agenda.

     CA also supported Thom Tillis's successful campaign to oust Kay Hagan as a senator for North Carolina. The firm was credited for its role in identifying a sizeable cluster of North Carolinians who prioritised foreign affairs, which encouraged Tillis to shift the conversation from state-level debates over education policy to charges that incumbent Kay Hagan had failed to take ISIS's rise seriously. Tillis's campaign and the North Carolina Republican Party paid Cambridge Analytica $345,000 for these services.

     CA sent dozens of non-U.S. citizens to provide campaign strategy and messaging advice to Republican candidates in 2014, opening the firm and individuals to prosecution under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, for being foreign agents having not registered through the United States Department of Justice as such.

2016 presidential election

Ben Carson was a second client of CA; his campaign had paid $220,000 for "data management" and "web service" as reported in October 2015. Marco Rubio's campaign was supported by Optimus Consulting. Meanwhile, the third competitor, Governor John Kasich, was supported by rivalling firm Applecart.

     After Cruz dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination in May 2016, Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer started to support Trump. In August, it became known that CA followed their allegiance and worked for Trump's presidential campaign. Trump's campaign also worked with digital firm Giles Parscale. In September, the Trump campaign spent $5 million to purchase television advertising. The Trump campaign spent less than $1 million in data work.

     In 2016, the company said that it had not used psychographics in the Trump presidential campaign. Cambridge Analytica targeted potential voters with bespoke messages. Cambridge Analytica's data head, Alexander Tayler said, "When you think about the fact that Donald Trump lost the popular vote by 3m votes but won the electoral college vote, [t]hat's down to the data and the research."

     The head of Cambridge Analytica said he asked WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, for help finding Hillary Clinton's 33,000 deleted emails.

     On 18 May 2017, Time reported that the US Congress was investigating CA in connection with Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. The report alleges that CA may have coordinated the spread of Russian propaganda using its microtargetting capabilities. According to the Trump campaign's digital operations chief, CA worked "side-by-side" with representatives from Facebook, Alphabet Inc. and Twitter on Trump's digital campaign activities.

     On 4 August 2017, Michael Flynn, who is under investigation by US counterintelligence for his contacts with Russian officials, amended a public financial filing to reflect that he had served in an advisory role in an agreement with CA during the 2016 Trump campaign.

     On 8 October 2017, Brad Parscale, who was the digital media director for Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, stated in an interview with Lesley Stahl from CBS News on 60 Minutes that Parscale was able to utilize Facebook advertising to directly target individual voters in swing states. Parscale cited the example in which he was able to target specific universes (audiences) who care about infrastructure and promote Trump and his message to build back up the crumbling American infrastructure. Although he hired Cambridge Analytica to assist with microtargeting, and Cambridge Analytica stated that it was the key to Trump's victory, Parscale denied that he gained assistance from the firm, stating that he thought Cambridge Analytica's use of psychographics doesn't work. He also denied any assistance with links to Russia. According to Parscale, the Clinton campaign turned down assistance from these platforms.

     On 25 October 2017, Assange said on Twitter that he had been approached by Cambridge Analytica, but that he had rejected its proposal. Assange's tweet followed a story in The Daily Beast alleging that Cambridge Analytica chief executive Alexander Nix had proposed a collaboration with Wikileaks to find the 33,000 emails that had been deleted from Clinton's private server. CNN said it had been told by several unnamed sources that Nix intended to turn the Clinton email archive released to the public by the State Department into a searchable database for the campaign or a pro-Trump political action committee.

     On 14 December 2017, it was revealed that Robert Mueller had requested during the fall of 2017 that Cambridge Analytica turn over the emails of any of its employees who worked on the Trump campaign, as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.

     In 2018, following disclosures that the company had improperly used the personal information of over 50 million Facebook users while working on Trump's presidential campaign, The Times of Israel reported that the company had used what Nix had called "intelligence gathering" from British and Israeli companies as part of their efforts to influence the election results in Trump's favor. 

Other countries

     Cambridge Analytica's executives said in 2018 that the company had worked in more than 200 elections around the world, including in India, Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia (CA's website stated that it supported Prime Minister Najib Razak's Barisan Nasional coalition), Colombia, Cyprus, Zambia, South Africa, Romania, Italy, Lithuania, Trinidad and Tobago, Nigeria (Nigeria's 2015 presidential election), the Czech Republic, and Argentina. During the investigation it was admitted that the company has been contacted from a famous Italian party to manage the electoral campaign in Italy but the name of the party was not revealed.

     In the Philippines, Cambridge Analytica was also involved in the 2016 presidential election with reports citing it helped Rodrigo Duterte win the race. Duterte's camp denied this association. The SCL Group, Cambridge Analytica's parent company, claimed that it rebranded the politician's image to target voters who they found are swayed by qualities such as toughness and decisiveness. During the election cycle, Facebook confirmed that its data of more 1 million Filipino users were improperly shared with the communications company.

     On 4 January 2020, a release of more than 100,000 documents showed how Cambridge Analytica worked in 68 countries. A global infrastructure with operations to manipulate voters on "an industrial scale". The release of documents began on New Year's Day from an anonymous Twitter account called @HindsightFiles, that published material on elections in Malaysia, Kenya and Brazil (and next days so more countries). This documents came from Brittany Kaiser, an ex-Cambridge Analytica employee turned whistleblower, and were retrieved from her email accounts and hard drives.