Cambridge Analytica whistleblower briefs House Dems

Cambridge Analytica whistleblower briefs House Dems
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Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower behind revelations about Cambridge Analytica’s handling of Facebook user data, on Tuesday briefed a group of House Democrats behind closed doors.

Following the interview, Democrats from the House Judiciary and the Oversight and Government Reform committees warned about the prospect of election interference on social media and urged the panels’ chairs to hold full hearings on the data scandal.

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“We must do more to learn how foreign actors collect and weaponize our data against us, and what impact social media has on our democratic processes,” the members said in a joint statement. “Cambridge Analytica is not the first company to engage in these types of tactics, nor will they be last if we fail to conduct oversight and investigate this matter thoroughly.”

The Democrats said that Judiciary Republicans had refused an invitation to participate in the interview.

Members leaving the briefing said they were struck by how Cambridge Analytica, which is based in London, operated with the sophistication of a military unit and worried that the U.S. was vulnerable to such firms manipulating elections.

“A very disturbing testimony in my view, because it really shows how there was a coordinated effort to mislead and to use propaganda to influence an American presidential election,” Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineHouse GOP refuses to boost funding for election security Sparks fly at hearing on anti-conservative bias in tech Live coverage: FBI agent defends anti-Trump texts in tense hearing MORE (D-R.I.) told reporters.

Cambridge Analytica has denied using the improperly obtained data during its work for President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE’s 2016 campaign.

Several called for testimony from others linked to the political consultancy, like former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon and Republican mega-donor Robert Mercer, two of the firm’s founders.

Wylie’s revelation that his former employer improperly obtained data on tens of millions of Facebook users prompted a massive outcry on Capitol Hill, with lawmakers from both parties lashing out at Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Officials pressed on Russian interference at security forum | FCC accuses Sinclair of deception | Microsoft reveals Russia tried to hack three 2018 candidates | Trump backs Google in fight with EU | Comcast gives up on Fox bid Facebook's Zuckerberg congratulated Trump after 2016 election: report Facebook to start removing misleading posts that incite violence MORE when he appeared in a pair of back-to-back hearings earlier this month.

But Republicans have shown little interest in exploring the firm’s political work. Cambridge Analytica has served several GOP figures, including Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenators push to clear backlog in testing rape kits Russia raises problems for GOP candidates Deal to fix family separations hits snag in the Senate MORE (Texas), national security adviser John Bolton and Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisKey GOP senator says ‘no question’ Russia is meddling in U.S. affairs GOP Senator: 'Very inappropriate' for Trump to discuss allowing Russia to question US citizens Anti-Trump protesters hold candlelight vigil by White House MORE (N.C.).

The group of Democrats blasted Oversight Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyWill Congress ever hold our federal agencies accountable for contempt? Dem lawmaker calls on House to subpoena American translator from Trump-Putin meeting The Hill's Morning Report — Trump isolated and denounced after Putin meeting MORE (R-S.C.) and Judiciary Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteWill Congress ever hold our federal agencies accountable for contempt? Lots of love: Charity tennis match features lawmakers teaming up across the aisle Dems try to end hearing on bias against conservatives in tech MORE (R-Va.) for instead focusing on “repeated investigations of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonProminent Putin critic: If Trump turns me over, I'm dead Dems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia Trump tweets old video of Clinton talking up 'a strong Russia' MORE’s emails and holding sham hearings centered on the theory that conservatives are unfairly censored on social media.”

Spokespeople for Gowdy and Goodlatte did not immediately respond when asked for comment.