The Mercers, Cambridge Analytica, and Putin’s Internet Research Agency: A Timeline

The Mercers & Steve Bannon formed Cambridge Analytica in June 2014, the exact same month that the Internet Research Agency changed their US influence campaign to include interfering in the US presidential election.

In May 2014, Kremlin-backed troll farm, the Internet Research Agency, discussed efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and began monitoring U.S. social media accounts for information about the 2016 U.S. election.

A month later, Dr. Kogan of Mercer and Steve Bannon’s Cambridge Analytica, whose parent company SCL had just received a $15,000,000 cash infusion from Robert Mercer, launched a ‘research project’ at Russia’s Saint Petersburg State University.

That same month [June 2014], the Internet Research Agency, which in 2013 had registered with the Russian government as a corporate entity, began obscuring its conduct by operating through a number of Russian shell companies. They also began in June 2014 to occupy offices just 15 minutes from Saint Petersburg State University — where Dr. Kogan was conducting his ‘research on internet trolls.’

Around that time period [in June or July 2014], the CEO of Mercer and Bannon’s Cambridge Analytica gave a presentation on how to target American voters to the head of Russian oil giant Lukoil, Vagit Alekperov, who has close ties to Trump’s friend, Aras Agalarov. The presentation included information on alarming and demoralizing voters, social media micro-targeting, and voter suppression.

Below is a timeline of what led the Mercers and Steve Bannon to Cambridge Analytica, Cambridge Analytica’s foray into Russia, and the origin of the Russian government’s disinformation campaign to elect Trump.

[Source links are embedded within the text below, underlined and in bold.]

2011: Steve Bannon drafts a business plan for the Mercers which called for them to invest ten million dollars in Breitbart News, in exchange for a large stake.

2011: David Bossie, the head of the conservative group Citizens United, introduced Trump to Bannon. At the time, Trump was thinking about running against Obama. Bannon and Trump met at Trump Tower and discussed a possible campaign. Though Trump decided against the idea, the two kept in touch and Bannon gave Trump admiring coverage in Breitbart. Bannon noticed that when Trump spoke to crowds, people were ‘electrified’ and began to think that Trump might be “the one” who could shake up American politics.

2011: The Mercers join forces with the Kochs.

2012: The Mercer Family Foundation donates two million dollars to Citizens United, which had trafficked in Clinton hatred for years.

2012: Steve Bannon becomes Mercers de facto political advisor.

2012: Rebekah Mercer, furious after Obama beat Romney, wants to know where her investment was spent and how. She begins the break with Kochs and the Mercers decide to finance their own big-data project.

2013: At a conservative conference in Palm Beach, Mercer and Bannon received polling data that showed mounting anger toward wealthy élites, who many Americans believed had corrupted the government to serve only their interests and that there was a hunger for a populist presidential candidate who would run against the major political parties and the ruling class. The data showed that someone could just walk into this election and sweep it.”

MAY 27, 2013: Trump contemplates a 2016 presidential bid. “The electoral research was commissioned,” Cohen tells the New York Post and confirms to CBS News. “We did not spend $1 million on this research for it just to sit on my bookshelf.”

JUN 15, 2013: Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov, his son Emin, and Emin’s then-wife Leyla [daughter of Azerbaijan’s president] meet with Trump in Las Vegas. The Agalarovs facilitate a deal whereby Trump agrees that, in return for a more than $10 million payment, Moscow will host the 2013 Miss Universe pageant at a concert hall in Agalarov’s Crocus City development near Moscow. Russia’s biggest bank — state-controlled Sberbank — sponsors the pageant.

Late 2013: Alexander Nix [a British citizen who leads the small elections division of SCL Group and would later become CEO of SCL-affiliate Cambridge Analytica] meets with Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer. Bannon is “intrigued by the possibility of using personality profiling to shift America’s culture and rewire its politics.”

NOV 8–10, 2013: Trump arrives in Moscow for the Miss Universe Pageant, which was sponsored by the Agalarovs. Trump also attends Aras Agalarov’s 58th birthday party. [Did Agalarov’s friend, Lukoil owner & CEO Vagit Alekperov, also attend and meet Trump? Agalarov and his close friend, Lukoil CEO Alekperov, are both from Baku, Azerbaijan and are big backers of Emin Agalarov’s then father-in-law, Ilham Aliyev, president of Azerbaijan — home to Trump Tower Baku.]

MAR 20, 2014: The US imposes sanctions against Russia over Ukraine

APR 2014: The Internet Research Agency forms a department referred to as the “translator project,” which focuses on the U.S. population and conducts operations on social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

MAY 2014: The Internet Research Agency includes interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election as part if its strategy, with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general. From the Mueller indictment: “In May 2014, defendants and their co-conspirators discussed efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and began to monitor U.S. social media accounts and other sources of information about the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

JUN 2014: Robert Mercer invests $15 million in SCL Group’s election division, which then forms what is essentially an American shell company that Mercer owns almost entirely. Steve Bannon chooses the name of the new company, Cambridge Analytica, and Rebekah Mercer becomes a board member. Alexander Nix holds dual appointments at Cambridge Analytica and London-based SCL, which will service Cambridge’s contracts.

JUN 2014: The Internet Research Agency, which in 2013 had registered with the Russian government as a Russian corporate entity, begins obscuring its conduct by operating through a number of Russian entities [shell companies].

JUN or JUL 2014 and into 2015: Cambridge Analytica has contact with Russian oil giant, Lukoil, which is interested in how data can be used to target American voters. Cambridge Analytica CEO, Alexander Nix, “shared with the head of Lukoil [Vagit Alekperov, who has close ties to Agalarov]” a detailed Cambridge Analytica presentation that included information about alarming & demoralizing voters, social media micro-targeting, and voter suppression.

JUN 2014: Cambridge Analytica’s Kogan begins advising a research team who “want to detect internet trolls to improve the lives of those suffering from trolling” at Russia’s Saint Petersburg State University — 20 mins from Kremlin-backed troll farm, the Internet Research Agency.

JUN 2014: The Internet Research Agency begins occupying an office at 55 Savushkina Street in Saint Petersburg [15–20 minutes from Saint Petersburg State University, students from which largely staff the Internet Research Agency], a location which becomes one of the Internet Research Agency’s operational hubs from which they carried out their activities to interfere in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

JUN 4 -26, 2014: The Internet Research Agency operatives obtain US visas under false pretenses and travel around the U.S., including stops in NV, CA, NM, CO, IL, MI, LO, TX, and NY to gather intelligence.

SEP 2014: The Internet Research Agency [largely staffed by Saint Petersburg State University students] is given a budget of $1.25M/month to “spread distrust toward U.S. candidates.

NOV 26–30, 2014: Another Internet Research Agency operative travels to Atlanta, GA to gather intelligence.

JAN 2015: Emin Agalarov and his publicist, Rob Goldstone, meet with Trump in Trump Tower. “Maybe next time, you’ll be performing at the White House,” Trump tells Emin.

MAR 18, 2015: Trump launches an exploratory committee for a presidential bid. Shortly after hiring political operatives in early primary states, Trump announces he is exploring running for president as a Republican.

Summer 2015: Dutch Intelligence, who in 2014 had infiltrated the computer network & security camera of Kremlin hackers, Cozy Bear [Russian military intelligence, GRU] and witnessed their attacks on the Obama White House and the State Department, notifies US Intelligence about a Russian hack of the DNC.

JUN 16, 2015: Trump announces his candidacy.

JUN 2015: Within weeks of Trump announcing his presidential bid, Russian twitter accounts posing as Americans begin lavishing praise on Trump and attacking his rivals.

JUN 2015: Russian-Government-linked troll farm, the Internet Research Agency, whose financier, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is “a close Putin ally with ties to Russian intelligence” [according to US intelligence reports], begins buying ads on Facebook.

Late 2015: European Allies observe contacts between the Trump campaign and and Russian intelligence operatives.

JUN 2015-AUG 2017: 150 million Americans see social media content from Russian-government-linked troll farm, the Internet Research Agency

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.