Democrats Push to Subpoena Trump Data Firms

Reps. Jerry Nadler and Elijah Cummings want records from Cambridge Analytica and Giles-Parscale.

December 3, 2016 - New York, New York, US - Trump campaign digital director Brad Parscale in the lobby of Trump Tower on December 3, 2016.Albin Lohr-Jones/Avalon via ZUMA Press

Two senior House Democrats are pushing to subpoena Cambridge Analytica and Giles-Parscale, data consulting firms that worked for the Trump campaign, after both companies were asked about and failed to deny contacts with foreign governments during the 2016 election. The Democrats want to know if the firms or the Trump campaign shared information to help the Russian government or other groups target political messages on social media or otherwise meddle in the 2016 election in a bid to help defeat Hillary Clinton.

Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the top Democrats on the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, on Thursday wrote to the Republican chairmen seeking their cooperating in subpoenaing records from these firms. The Democrats noted that on October 26, they asked Cambridge Analytica, Giles-Parscale, and three other data firms that worked for the Trump campaign to provide documents on any contacts they had with foreign governments or foreign actors such as WikiLeaks.

“Three of these companies—TargetPoint, Deep Root, and Data Trust—sent responses on the same day, using language that was nearly identical and apparently coordinated,” the Democrats wrote. Each said it “had no contacts with” and did not receive “any information from a foreign government or foreign actor.” Giles-Parscale and Cambridge Analytica did not issue such a denial.

Alexander Nix, who heads Cambridge Analytica, has acknowledged that he emailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange last year asking for help obtaining 33,000 emails that Clinton deleted from a private email server she used while she was secretary of state. Nix is meeting with members of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday. Cambridge Analytica, which is owned in part by Trump donor Robert Mercer and where ex-White House strategist Steve Bannon once held a board seat, did not respond to the October 26 letter, the Democrats wrote.

Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign’s former digital director and the head of San Antonio-based Giles-Parscale, did reply to the Democrats’ request. Parscale used language nearly identical to the other three firms in saying that he did “not have any firsthand knowledge of foreign interference in the 2016 elections.” But Parscale’s letter did not state that his firm had no contact with foreign actors or governments, unlike the other firms. Parscale testified before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors last month.

Nadler and Cummings suggested in their letter that both Parscale and Cambridge may have more information. The letter asked Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who chairs the Oversight Committee, to subpoena the companies to force them to turn over any documents they possess detailing foreign contacts. Gowdy and Goodlatte, who have previously said they do not want to compete with ongoing investigations by the House Intelligence Committee and special counsel Robert Mueller, are expected to reject the Democrats’ request.