You might have missed the news in the never-ending blizzard of Trump-related stories, but digital politics now has a role in the investigation about possible ties between his campaign and the Russian government. Specifically, members of the now-president’s 2016 online campaign team might want to talk to a lawyer:
Investigators want answers from Jared Kushner (who oversaw his father-in-law’s online campaign) and Trump digital director Brad Parscale about any possible connection with Russia’s work to interfere with the 2016 election. Parscale agreed to meet with the House Intelligence Committee, though I haven’t seen any follow-up to date. In a statement last month, Parscale said he was “unaware of any Russian involvement in the digital and data operation” in the Trump campaign.
Federal investigators poking around in your business? Always a joy! I covered the story in my most recent piece for Campaigns & Elections, with a particular eye toward the kinds of collaboration investigators may look for. We don’t have to go far for ideas, because the more mundane world of political campaigning provides plenty of examples. Your average congressional race may not pal around with the Russkies, but plenty of them have found ways to pass information back and forth with Independent Expenditure groups right here at home.
Data files often end up online under mysterious circumstances, for example, and don’t forget those Mitch McConnell videos (obviously intended for ad-makers) that Jon Stewart skewered a few years back. Even a simple spreadsheet of zip codes and demographic groups could help an outside group target content behind the scenes.
The C&E piece covers all of these examples, along with some thoughts about the implications for campaign regulations if the Feds DO turn up something incriminating. Could the internet help bring down the Donald? Watch this space.
Photo: Donald Trump speaking with the media at a hangar at Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona, by Gage Skidmore.