Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon was involved with Cambridge Analytica's data acquisition project before the firm was ever involved with President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE's campaign, a former employee says.
The Washington Post reports that a former employee of the controversial data analytics firm says Bannon was involved with the firm in 2014 as it gathered information on thousands of Americans apparently without their knowledge.
Chris Wylie, a self-described whistleblower and former employee of the firm told the Post that Bannon oversaw the firm's efforts in 2014, the year Wylie left, as the firm tested messaging on terms that would become central themes of the Trump campaign: "drain the swamp" and "deep state."
“We had to get Bannon to approve everything at this point. Bannon was Alexander Nix’s boss,” said Wylie, then the firm's research director. “Alexander Nix didn’t have the authority to spend that much money without approval.”
Bannon served as vice president and secretary of Cambridge Analytica from 2014 to 2016. He served as the chief executive of Trump's campaign, and then became senior strategist in the White House after Trump's victory. Bannon was dismissed by Trump in August, and the two had a falling out over quotations Bannon gave to Michael Wolff, the author of "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House."
The former White House aide did not respond to a request for comment from the Post on the story.
Cambridge Analytica is accused of covertly obtaining data from 50 million users that was compromised by a third party and using it during the campaign, despite just 270,000 users giving permission for their data to be stored.
In a statement, the firm has said it "strongly denies" the reports it used the data obtained as part of its work with the Trump campaign.
"This Facebook data was not used by Cambridge Analytica as part of the services it provided to the Donald Trump presidential campaign; personality targeted advertising was not carried out for this client either. The company has made this clear since 2016," Cambridge Analytica said.