Potstirrer Podcast / YouTube Episode 10 Mueller Time Why are...
Potstirrer Podcast / YouTube

In the last two weeks, Republicans have increasingly acted to delegitimize the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in Trump campaign during the 2016 election. Rep. Jim Jordan has lashed out, in coordination with the White House, to insanely accuse FBI agents of working to elect Hillary Clinton and bring down Donald Trump. Never mind that it was FBI Director James Comey’s letter that moved the needle just enough in swing state suburbs to deliver us all to hell. This week, Rep. Francis Rooney (FL-19) appeared on MSNBC and called for a political purge of the FBI and the Department of Justice, actions that would appear to be taken straight from Stalin’s playbook.

The attacks on Special Counsel Robert Mueller—a registered Republican who was appointed FBI director by a Republican president and was praised by Republicans from coast to coast as having the upmost integrity when he was appointed to lead this investigation—are suddenly amping dangerously up. Why the sudden change of heart from Republicans? Well, according to Yahoo!, Mueller is digging into how the Russians might’ve gotten their hands on the voter data and they have been interviewing Republican National Committee staffers:

In just the last few weeks, his prosecutors have begun questioning Republican National Committee staffers about the party digital operation that worked with the Trump campaign to target voters in key swing states. They are seeking to determine if the joint effort was related to the activities of Russian trolls and bots aimed at influencing the American electorate, according to two of the sources.

In what is potentially another ominous sign for the White House, the lawyer for Jared Kushner, the president’s son in law and senior adviser who was in charge of the campaign’s digital operation, recently began searching for a crisis public relations firm to handle press inquiries — a step frequently taken by people who believe they may be facing criminal charges. (Kushner has denied all wrongdoing, and his lawyer, Abbe Lowell, has said he is cooperating with the Mueller investigation.)

Ahh, Jared Kushner. In December 2016, Forbes Magazine published a glowing article about Trump’s “golden boy,” who was a political novice with zero background in politics, digital operations or GOTV campaigns, and was suddenly being hailed overnight as a digital operations genius. From that gag-inducing profile of Kushner:

Television and online advertising? Small and smaller. Twitter and Facebook would fuel the campaign, as key tools for not only spreading Trump’s message but also targeting potential supporters, scraping massive amounts of constituent data and sensing shifts in sentiment in real time.

“We weren’t afraid to make changes. We weren’t afraid to fail. We tried to do things very cheaply, very quickly. And if it wasn’t working, we would kill it quickly,” Kushner says. “It meant making quick decisions, fixing things that were broken and scaling things that worked.”

This wasn’t a completely raw startup. Kushner’s crew was able to tap into the Republican National Committee’s data machine, and it hired targeting partners like Cambridge Analytica to map voter universes and identify which parts of the Trump platform mattered most: trade, immigration or change. Tools like Deep Root drove the scaled-back TV ad spending by identifying shows popular with specific voter blocks in specific regions–say, NCIS for anti-ObamaCare voters or The Walking Dead for people worried about immigration. Kushner built a custom geo-location tool that plotted the location density of about 20 voter types over a live Google Maps interface.

Emphasis added. Are Republicans amping up their attacks on Robert Mueller because staff from the Republican National Committee itself may have been party to colluding with a foreign government to skew an American election? Or have been party to handing the data off to a third party, like Jared Kushner and Cambridge Analytics, who then gave it to the Russians?

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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