Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie told Democrats on the House Judiciary and House Oversight and Government Reform committees that Steve Bannon directed staff to test messaging in 2014 about Russian president Vladmir Putin and Russian expansion in Eastern Europe.
Wylie said it was unusual because it was the only foreign leader they tested.
“I can’t explain why it was that they picked Vladmir Putin to talk about in focus groups or to do message testing or to do models on, and why that would be useful to Steve Bannon,” he told Democrats in interviews on Capitol Hill this week. “But what I can say is that they were also testing images of Vladimir Putin and asking questions about Russian expansion in Eastern Europe.”
Cambridge Analytica worked for President Trump’s 2016 campaign, and Bannon was vice president of the board of the data analytics firm beginning in 2014. Bannon joined Trump’s campaign team in August 2016.
Wylie — who left Cambridge Analytica in 2014 — revealed to the Observer last month how Cambridge Analytica improperly took and used the personal information of more than 50 million Facebook users ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
Wylie told Democrats that Cambridge Analytics was a “full service propaganda machine,” that wanted to use collected Facebook data — at the direction of Bannon — to discourage specific groups of people from voting, including those likely to vote Democratic.
Democrats said they invited the Judiciary Committee Republicans to attend the interview with Wylie, but they “refused.”
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