Look, I get it, it’s just human nature. Right now, everybody is fixated on tying Trump and his pathetic campaign to the stolen DNC and Podesta e-mails, mainly because it’s just so damn sexy. Looking at things that someone else wrote that were never intended for our eyes speaks to that inner imp in all of us, kind of like reading your sister’s diary when she’s at school. But the Clinton-Podesta-DNC e-mails aren’t the only hacked materials game in town, and the other one may even be significantly easier to prove.
The problem with the hacked e-mails is trying to definitively tie the Trump campaign to decisive action to release and disseminate them. Yeah, I know, there’s Papadopoulos’ bragging in the London bar, and Donald Trump Jr’s “If it’s what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer,” but as Claire Peller used to say for Burger King, “Where’s the beef?” The fact that the stolen e-mails went from the hackers to DCLeaks and Wikileaks makes it harder to prove that the Trump campaign actively coordinated or participated in releasing or using the information.
But there’s another hack, one that went pretty much unnoticed until Mueller put it into his indictments of the second round of Russians, and even then it pretty much flew under the radar. This hack took place in September, when GRU hackers penetrated the cloud based system hosting the data for the DNC. This wasn’t e-mails, it was graphs and numbers, and charts, and it may turn out that it was more critical to the outcome than all of the e-mails combined.
Here’s what it basically was. It was a compilation of polls, voter enthusiasm data, focus group info, and the like, It’s not at all sexy, in fact it’s drier than my cactus pot. But it’s critical. It’s critical because that’s the kind of data that the DNC and the Clinton campaign used to determine where and when to advertise, and how much to spend. To determine if a GOTV effort was needed, and perhaps even a late trip by the candidate. Think of it as the Clinton campaigns playbook for the Super Bowl. And the Russians may have given it to the Trump campaign.
This is of critical importance because, in the weeks following that successful hack, Brad Parscale, the head of the Trump campaign’s media operations, suddenly started funneling money and extreme effort into obscure districts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Districts in which, up to that point, the Trump campaign had basically spent dollar zero, effectively ceding the ground to the Clinton campaign. Why now, in the 11th hour, suddenly start tossing cash into ads, both over the air and online, and ramping up the media presence? Maybe because they had just come into possession of some Clinton analytics that exposed a weak flank, and hoped that their sudden interest in these obscure places would go unnoticed by the Clinton campaign, or be mistaken as a last ditch effort from a flailing campaign?
There are only three ways that this could play out. The first is that Parscale had his team run their own analytics, came up with numbers similar to, if not identical with the DNC figures, and ran with it. If that’s the case, then Parscale and the Trump campaign can produce not only the data, but the provenance for it. The second way would be that the Trump campaign received the data directly from the Russians, in one way or another. This doesn’t seem very likely, because it would be so brazen, but one must remember that the Russians didn’t seem to go to that much trouble to try to cover their tracks, they didn’t care if anybody knew. The third, and to my mind the most likely, is that they received the data from the GRU through a cutout. But who was the cutout?
My guess is, of course, Cambridge Analytica. It is already well known that Robert Mercer, the billionaire Trump supporter, and founder of Cambridge Analytica, pushed the Trump campaign to use the firm for it’s data collection and interpretation, and to some extent the campaign did. We also know that the top dog at Cambridge bragged on undercover tape about the firms exceptional analytic work that directly led to the Trump victory. And it has already been reported that both Robert Mueller’s investigators, as well as British investigators, are looking into persistent rumors that Russian intelligence may have been slipping Cambridge Analytica treats under the door. As in the English professor working for Cambridge Analytica on data harvesting who also just happened to be a professor at a Russian university in Moscow.
Did the Russians, ether directly, or through Cambridge Analytica, get stolen DNC analytics to the Trump campaign for them to use under the table? That’s for Mueller to figure out. And did the Russians then coordinate their own social media blitz of the vulnerable districts in those critical swing states with the Trump campaign for maximum effect? That is also for Mueller’s team to determine. But I’ll tell you one thing that I do know. If in fact the Russians got that stolen material to the Trump campaign, regardless of how they did it, that is something the Mueller team should be able to determine. If they can trace Russian transmissions to individual terminals at GRU headquarters, and attach a specific name to the terminal, they should be able to follow this trail. And if they do that, then the Trump campaign’s lame ass “We din’t know nuffin” excuse that they’re using about the stolen e-mails won’t fly. Because it can be traced right to Brad Parscale’s grubby little mitts, and the sudden attention to those critical districts found in the data will do the rest. That’s not collusion, it’s a full blown criminal conspiracy. And if they track the stolen data to Parscale, that puts Jared Kushner in the hurt locker, because he was the one supposedly in charge of the Trump social media effort for the campaign, Parscale ostensibly worked for him.
As Rachel Maddow would say, “Stick a pin in this.” Because, other than that single mention of the DNC analytics hack in the Russian indictments, there hasn’t been a peep about it. And when something that should be that important suddenly goes full blown radio silent, I get suspicious. After all, Trump isn’t the only one who knows how to distract attention with a bright shiny object. Let’s see if Mueller beats Trump at his own damn game for a change. Don’t touch that dial.