Counsel Robert Mueller has requested that Cambridge Analytica, a
data firm that worked for President Donald Trump’s campaign, turn
over documents as part of its investigation into Russian
interference in the 2016 U.S. election, according to people
familiar with the matter.
Mueller asked the firm in the fall to turn over the emails of
any Cambridge Analytica employees who worked on the Trump
campaign, in a sign that the special counsel is probing the
Trump campaign’s data operation.
special counsel's request, which the firm complied with, wasn’t
previously known. The emails had earlier been turned over to the
House Intelligence Committee, the people said, adding that both
requests were voluntary.
Thursday, Cambridge Analytica Chief Executive Alexander Nix
interviewed via videoconference with the House Intelligence
Committee, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Mueller’s request for employee emails was made before media
outlets reported in October that Mr.
Nix had contacted WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange during
the 2016 campaign, according to a person familiar with the
matter. The Sweden-based WikiLeaks last year published a trove
of Hillary Clinton -related emails that U.S. intelligence
agencies later determined had been stolen by Russian
intelligence and given to the website.
special counsel declined to comment. A spokesman for Cambridge
Analytica didn’t immediately return a request to comment.
House committee earlier this fall referred questions about its
document request to the data firm. Cambridge Analytica at the
time confirmed the House request and said the firm wasn’t under
investigation for its activities in the 2016 campaign.
Mueller’s team and congressional investigators are probing
whether Trump associates colluded in a Russian effort to
interfere in the 2016 U.S. election. Mr. Trump has denied
collusion by him or his campaign, and Moscow has denied meddling
in the election. The U.S. intelligence community in January
concluded that Russia had sought to influence the election.
Nix, in a Lisbon speech in November, said he had asked the
office that handles his speaking engagements to contact Mr.
Assange in “early June 2016,” after reading a newspaper report
that WikiLeaks planned to publish the Clinton-related emails. He
asked if Mr. Assange “might share that information with us.” Mr.
Assange has said he declined the request. Mr. Nix’s outreach to
WikiLeaks came at the same time as his firm started working for
Mr. Trump’s campaign, The
Wall Street Journal has reported.
Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the top Democrat on the House
Intelligence Committee, told the Journal earlier this year that
ties between Cambridge Analytica and WikiLeaks were of “deep
interest” to the committee. The House panel also asked Cambridge
Analytica to preserve its data on Trump voters and supporters,
but it hasn’t asked that the firm turn the data over, according
to a person familiar with the matter.
months after Mr. Nix directed his speaker’s bureau to contact
Mr. Assange, top Trump donor Rebekah Mercer asked him whether
Cambridge Analytica could help better organize the emails
WikiLeaks was releasing, the
Journal has reported. Ms. Mercer and her father,
hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, are part owners of
Mercer and Mr. Nix haven’t commented on the matter.
the campaign, Cambridge Analytica provided data, polling and
research services to the campaign. Steve Bannon had introduced
Mr. Nix to the campaign in mid-May. Mr. Bannon became the
campaign’s chief executive officer in August 2016 and later
joined the White House as a top strategist. He left the
administration in August of this year.
Bykowicz contributed to this article.
to Rebecca Ballhaus at Rebecca.Ballhaus@wsj.com