Cambridge Analytica chief executive Alexander Nix has said in comments that were secretly recorded and broadcast Tuesday by Britain’s Channel 4 news that his company played a major role in securing Donald Trump’s narrow victory in the 2016 presidential election.
“We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting, we ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign and our data informed all the strategy,” says Nix, whose company is being investigated by British officials for its handling of personal data.
Nix made the comments to an undercover reporter posing as a wealthy potential client seeking to use Cambridge Analytica to influence campaigns in Sri Lanka. As part of a sales pitch, Nix says his company used emails set with a “self-destruct timer” during the Trump campaign to make its role more difficult to trace.
“So you send them and after they’ve been read, two hours later, they disappear,” he said. “There’s no evidence, there’s no paper trail, there’s nothing.”
He also told the undercover reporter that there could be no U.S. investigation of his foreign clients because “they have no jurisdiction.”
Nix claims to have met Trump “many times,” but doesn’t provide details.
Channel 4 quotes Mark Turnbull, another senior figure at Cambridge Analytica, as saying the company can create “proxy organizations” to feed negative material about opposition candidates onto the internet and social media.
He says “charities or activist groups” are useful for this purpose. The material spreads over the internet, he says, but has no branding and can’t be traced back to the company.
Nix has denied the company did anything wrong or put out inaccurate information. The company says it has complied with all regulations and is cooperating with British information officials.