WASHINGTON – Special counsel Robert Mueller subpoenaed another former employee of a data analytics firm that worked closely with President Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016, The Guardian reported Sunday.
Brittany Kaiser, a former director at Cambridge Analytica, was subpoenaed over potential ties her now-defunct firm had to the Russian government ahead of the 2016 election. She is the second former employee with the British analytics firm to be questioned about Cambridge Analytica’s involvement in the election.
The group shuttered in 2018 following a slew of reports showing it harvested the data of millions of Facebook users ahead of the election and provided that information to the Trump campaign. The subpoena came after a report claiming she’d visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in February 2017, Kaiser told reporters.
Sam Patten, a political consultant who worked for Cambridge Analytica on campaigns, struck a plea deal with Mueller in August after admitting he had failed to register as a foreign agent for a Ukrainian oligarch. Patten became a subject in Mueller’s probe because of his association with Paul Manafort, a former Trump’s campaign manager who was found guilty in 2018 of tax evasion and bank fraud.
Mueller has focused on whether the Trump campaign tried to influence the timing of a trove of leaks of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails before the election. Federal investigators are looking at communication between the Trump campaign, Assange and Cambridge Analytica.
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Facebook originally had an agreement with Kaiser’s group, but the social media giant eventually told it to delete information detailing people’s online traits and tendencies. Cambridge Analytica allegedly refused at the time, leading Facebook to terminate its contract that gave them permission to operate on its platform.
The debacle created a public backlash, with some Facebook critics at the time claiming that millions of people’s data were compromised because the company doesn’t properly vet who it commercially partners with. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg eventually testified in front of Congress in April to explain what his company does and can do and what it is doing to ensure people and their digital deeds aren’t being exploited.