Oct 11, 2017

House Intel looking at Cambridge Analytica in Russia probe

Screengrab via Cambridge Analytica

House Intelligence Committee members are looking into whether Cambridge Analytica, a data analysis and targeting firm used by the Trump campaign, may have played a role in colluding with Russia, The Daily Beast reports. A committee spokesman said the firm has been asked to provide the committee with information that might help its investigation but clarified that "Cambridge is not under investigation, and there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by the company."

The backdrop: Cambridge is backed by Robert Mercer, a wealthy, conservative hedge fund mogul who contributed significantly to Trump's presidential campaign. Mercer and his daughter Rebekah are also partial owners of Breitbart, the conservative website led by former White House advisor Steve Bannon. Some argue that a link between the Russians and the Trump presidential campaign could lie in the data operation, although there is no evidence of a correlation at present.

Trump campaign officials and Republican data operatives have argued that Cambridge exaggerated its role in Trump's digital campaign.

  • For months after the election Cambridge touted its role in using "psychographic" data analysis that could predict Americans' political leanings, but was forced to walk those claims back after campaign officials refuted them. Axios spoke with nearly one dozen Republican data and advertising executives, who said that the firm was mostly used to do fundraising work in June of 2016 and pivoted its role to data and polling analysis in August.
  • In an interview with Axios last week, Trump Advertising Director Brad Parscale said he hired Cambridge Analytica at the beginning of the campaign because he needed to ramp up staff to help execute advertising buys quickly. Parscale said that he initially turned down their offer because of cost, but eventually brought them on when they agreed to do the work for less money. On Sunday, Parscale told 60 minutes that he didn't think Cambridge's "psychographic" techniques worked.

Cambridge is also facing an inquiry from British data privacy regulators that want to understand its rolein influencing Brexit votes.

The lawsuit that could change the investigation: David Carroll, an associate professor at Parsons School of Design in New York, is hoping that a legal loophole will grant him access to the information about Cambridge's data operation that is being sought by US Intelligence officials, per The Guardian. Under UK law, Carroll has the ability to ask for his data back from the company, so he is now trying to raise money to sue Cambridge's UK parent company, SCL Group Ltd, to learn how Cambridge profiled millions of Americans.

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Top Trump ally sounds 2020 election alarm over coronavirus response

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

There is growing concern among top conservative leaders that the Trump administration isn't addressing the long-term economic impact of the coronavirus, several sources tell Axios. One top adviser said if the recovery is bungled it could cost President Trump the election.

What we're hearing: "The next 4-8 weeks is really going to decide whether Trump gets reelected," Stephen Moore, Trump's former nominee for the Federal Reserve board, told Axios. If the administration mishandles its economic recovery efforts, he said, Trump is "in big trouble."

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,600,427 — Total deaths: 95,506 — Total recoveries: 354,006Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 465,329 — Total deaths: 16,513 — Total recoveries: 25,410Map.
  3. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under a CDC public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  4. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — After another 6.6 million jobless claims, here's how to understand the scale of American job decimation.
  5. 2020 latest: Top conservative leaders are concerned the Trump administration isn't addressing the virus' long-term economic impact.
  6. States latest: FEMA has asked governors to decide if they want testing sites to be under state or federal control.
  7. World latest: Lockdowns have led to a decline in murders in some of the world's most violent countries — Boris Johnson is moved out of the ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus.
  8. In Congress: Senate in stalemate over additional funding for small business relief program.
  9. 1 SNL thing: "Saturday Night Live" will return this weekend in a remotely produced episode.
  10. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredPets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  11. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Federal court temporarily blocks coronavirus order against some abortions

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Thursday that clinics in Texas can immediately offer medication abortions — a pregnancy termination method administered by pill — and can also provide the procedure to patients nearing the state's time limits for abortions.

Driving the news: The decision comes after federal appeals court ruled 2-1 on Tuesday in favor of an executive order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that prohibits abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.

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