U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly obtained documents from Cambridge Analytica, a data firm employed by Trump’s presidential campaign, as part of his ongoing investigation into Russian election interference. The revelation comes as lawmakers ponder the significance, if any, of anti-Trump texts that were sent by two former members of Mueller’s team, and subsequently shared to the media and lawmakers.
It was last October that New York-based Cambridge Analytica complied with Mueller’s voluntarily request to submit all emails from employees who worked on the Trump campaign, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Reports from various news outlets state that Cambridge Analytica is of interest to investigators at least in part because CEO Alexander Nix had previously reached out to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in hopes of obtaining his help finding roughly 33,000 emails that were deleted from the server that Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton used when she was Secretary of State. Assange, in a tweet, confirmed the exchange, but claimed to reject his request.
The emails were reportedly shared with the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, which interviewed Nix on Thursday through a video conference.
Also on Thursday, Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking members of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees, sent a letter to their Republican chairmen counterparts, requesting that their respective committees subpoena records from Cambridge Analytica as well as fellow data consultancy firm Giles-Parscale.
Meanwhile, Mueller’s investigation has been subjected to additional scrutiny, after the Department of Justice reportedly took the unusual step of allowing reports to review anti-Trump, pro-Hillary private texts exchanged between FBI agents officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who were later assigned to the special counsel’s investigation. Strzok was immediately removed from Mueller’s team earlier last July, Politico reported, after the Inspector General discovered the texts during an internal probe into the FBI. Page was already off the Russia investigation at the point the texts were uncovered.
Democrats and reportedly some Senate Republicans are expressing concern that pro-Trump GOP members could use these text exchanges as ammunition to discredit Mueller and his findings, and accuse his team of extreme bias – even though Strzok and Page also criticized other lawmakers, their texts were sent before the Russia Probe, and only these two agents were found to engage in this behavior. Indeed, Trump himself on Friday reportedly told journalists on his way to an event at the F.B.I. Academy that “It’s a shame what’s happened with the F.B.I.,” calling the texts exchanged between Strzok and Page “disgraceful.”
In one text message, Page reportedly called Trump an “idiot” for saying there was no proof that Russian President Vladimir Putin ever had anyone killed, while one from Strzok said that Hillary “should win 100,000,000 – 0.” F
On Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testified before the House Judiciary Committee that he saw no cause to fire, and that Strzok’s and Page’s contributions to the special counsel’s investigation weren’t necessarily tainted just because of their personal political views.