A director of the controversial data company Cambridge Analytica, who appeared with Arron Banks at the launch of the Leave.EU campaign, has been subpoenaed by the US investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
A spokesman for Brittany Kaiser, former business development director for Cambridge Analytica – which collapsed after the Observer revealed details of its misuse of Facebook data – confirmed that she had been subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller, and was cooperating fully with his investigation.
He added that she was assisting other US congressional and legal investigations into the company’s activities and had voluntarily turned over documents and data.
Kaiser, who gave evidence to the UK parliament last April in which she claimed Cambridge Analytica had carried out in-depth work for Leave.EU, is the second individual connected to the firm subpoenaed by the special counsel. The Electoral Commission has said its investigation into Leave.EU found no evidence that the campaign “received donations or paid for services from Cambridge Analytica …beyond initial scoping work”.
Damian Collins, chairman of parliament’s inquiry into fake news, said it was “no surprise” that Kaiser was under scrutiny by Mueller because “her work connected her to WikiLeaks, Cambridge Analytica and [its parent company] SCL, the Trump campaign, Leave.EU and Arron Banks”.
He said it was now vital Britain had its own inquiry into foreign interference: “We should not be leaving this to the Americans.”
Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the Labour party, echoed Collins’s statement, saying: “This is the first evidence that a significant player in the Leave.EU campaign is of interested to the global Mueller inquiry. People will be bewildered that the British government has no interest in establishing the facts of what happened.”
In August, Sam Patten, a US political consultant who had worked for Cambridge Analytica on campaigns in the US and abroad, struck a plea deal with Mueller after admitting he had failed to register as a foreign agent for a Ukrainian oligarch.
He became a subject of the special counsel’s inquiry because of work done with Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, in Ukraine. He had also set up a business with Konstantin Kilimnik, a key figure who Mueller has alleged has ties to Russian intelligence and who is facing charges of obstruction of justice. In a 2017 statement to the Washington Post, Kilimnik denied any connection to intelligence services. Kaiser, however, is the first person connected directly to both the Brexit and Trump campaigns known to have been questioned by Mueller.
The news came to light in a new Netflix documentary, The Great Hack, which premiered at the Sundance film festival last month and is expected to be released later this spring. Film-makers followed Kaiser for months after she approached the Guardian, including moments after she received the subpoena. She claims the summons came after the Guardian revealed she had visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange while still a Cambridge Analytica employee in February 2017, three months after the US election.
One part of Mueller’s investigation focuses on whether the Trump campaign sought to influence the timing of the release of emails by WikiLeaks before the election. Investigators are looking at communications between them. In the film, Kaiser says that she has gone from being a cooperating witness to a subject of investigation because of her contact with Assange.