TRUMP’S CODE: Making Money on Populist Disorder IX
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Author: Munir Podumljak

Following on the previous article, the cooperation between Robert Mercer and Renaissance founder James Simons is intriguing given their differing world views. While Mercer is deeply conservative, Simons, a former professor at MIT and Harvard University, is one of the biggest donors to the Democrats.[1] Yet they shared an interest in influencing politics. Between them, in 2016 alone, Robert Mercer and James Simons collectively donated almost US$50 million to Super PACs.[2]

We suggest that Mercer and Simons played with politics in order to trigger political events and, knowing more than anyone else in the market what was likely to happen, were able to financially benefit from playing the markets. After the Citizens United decision, Robert Mercer started to interfere in elections by supporting a range of different candidates in a variety of contests.[3] These now appear as a set of experiments and tests to ready him for the bigger game ahead, where Mercer would be in a position to influence, create – and therefore be the first to predict – certain key events of market instability and to reap the financial rewards.

One important step in this strategy was the acquisition of Cambridge Analytica, another big data company that instead of markets themselves plays with market influencers – by manipulating the outcomes of political processes. Chris Wylie, a former Cambridge Analytica employee, has revealed details of a key meeting, attended by himself, Stephen Bannon, Alexander Nix (CA), Rebekah Mercer and Robert Mercer in the fall of 2013. Meeting in Rebekah Mercer’s Manhattan apartment, a deal was struck in which Robert Mercer would fund the creation of Cambridge Analytica with USD10 million, in the hope of shaping the congressional elections a year later.[4]

The Cambridge Analytica deal with the Mercers was a fundamental asset for several Mercer operations, including his masterpieces: the Brexit referendum and Donald Trump presidential campaign. Although all actors deny that Cambridge Analytica sought to influence the Brexit referendum, the evidence suggests otherwise. An investigation conducted by British law makers found that although, in the case of Cambridge Analytica “there was no contract and no money”, the company did undertake work to demonstrate their capabilities.[5] Moreover, four different campaign teams – Vote Leave, BeLeave, Veterans for Britain and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party – purchased services worth a total of £3.5m from a company called AggregateIQ, a company affiliated with Mercer that relied heavily on contracts to provide services to Cambridge Analytica or in collaboration with Cambridge Analytica.[6] (According to the Guardian “during the US primary elections, AggregateIQ signed away its intellectual property (IP) to Robert Mercer”.[7] The Guardian investigation also presents evidence suggesting that AggregateIQ built and ran Cambridge Analytica’s database platforms.[8] AggregateIQ also worked for John Bolton, the newly appointed national security adviser to Donald Trump, and for US senators Thom Tillis and Ted Cruz (who was supported by Robert Mercer before he switched his support to Trump).

Both the Brexit referendum and the Trump operation used an infa-

mous Facebook app created by Professor Aleksandr Kogan and his company Global Science Research (GSR). Kogan is a Cambridge University academic who orchestrated the harvesting of Facebook data for Cambridge Analytica, resulting in the theft of the FB data of over 87 million users.[9] Kogan also has ties to a Russian university (University of St Petersburg), including a teaching position, and receives grants from the Russian government for his research into the social media networks, as discovered by the Observer.[10]

FIGURE 12 GUARDIAN SCHEME OF CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA AND AGGREGATEIQ CONNECTIONS

Source: The Guardian[11]

Mercer marshalled all of his resources for the Brexit campaign, including his investment in Breitbart, one of the key instruments used to spread panic and false stories to British voters. On 23 June 2016, Mercer’s efforts paid off: the UK voted to leave the EU, which hit investors across the globe but, as will be discussed, Mercer’s business started to see unusually high returns.

At the same time, in the US, Mercer learned that his candidate Ted Cruz was not performing well, and the Russians’ strategy began to take shape. Mercer switched allegiances to Donald Trump, the underdog at the time, who looked unlikely to win. Even right before the elections, Trump’s ratings were very low, with around 34% of voters seeing Trump as a favorable candidate according to the Gallup.[12] So how did the candidate with such a bad rating win the US elections?

Mercer once again provided the extra help that Trump needed to win a majority of electoral college votes. Once more all of the Mercers’ resources were engaged in assuring Trump’s victory, including Breitbart, Cambridge Analytica, AggregateIQ and the millions of dollars invested in Super PAC’s. The Brexit strategy served as a tactical framework for the Trump campaign, targeting key swing voters with tailored messages.

On 8 November 2016, Donald J. Trump won the Electoral College with 304 votes compared to Hillary Clinton’s 227 votes.[13] While Clinton won the popular vote – 65.84 million against 62.98 million for Donald Trump[14] – it was Trump who became the 45th president of the United States.[15] Robert Mercer had once again achieved a mega market distortion as a result of his influence on political behavior.  This time, he had won an even bigger prize: with Trump in power, he had the chance to influence many more political events and to play many games at the same time.

Read more in the next article

 

This article was created with the support of the Fund for the Promotion of Pluralism and Diversity of Electronic Media within the project “Media Reality” – Developing and Encouraging the Media Literacy Programme

 

 

Connected articles: TRUMP’S CODE: Making Money on Populist Disorder VIIITRUMP’S CODE: Making Money on Populist Disorder VIITRUMP’S CODE: Making Money on Populist Disorder VITRUMP’S CODE: Making Money on Populist Disorder VTRUMP’S CODE: Making Money on Populist Disorder IVTRUMP’S CODE: Making Money on Populist Disorder IIITRUMP’S CODE: Making Money on Populist Disorder IITRUMP’S CODE: Making Money on Populist Disorder I

 

[1] OpenSecrets.org, Top Individual Contributors to Super PACs. [online]. Available at: https://www.opensecrets.org/overview/topindivs.php?view=sp&cycle=2018&type=src

[2] Solnik, C. (2017) Robert Mercer, James Simons among top donors to politicians. Libn.com, [online]. Available at: https://libn.com/2017/08/10/robert-mercer-jim-simon-among-top-donors-to-politicians/ [Accessed 10 Jul. 2018].

[3] The source of the information is the following link: https://projects.newsday.com/databases/long-island/mercers-contribs/. However, the exact reference was not feasible to extract due to the fact that in the meantime GDPR entered into force and the abovementioned site is no longer available in the European Union.

[4] Timberg, C., Adam, K., Kranish, M. (2018) Bannon oversaw Cambridge Analytica’s collection of Facebook data, according to former employee. The Washington Post, [online]. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bannon-oversaw-cambridge-analyticas-collection-of-facebook-data-according-to-former-employee/2018/03/20/8fb369a6-2c55-11e8-b0b0-f706877db618_story.html?utm_term=.5af6a6a271eeb [Accessed 10 Jul. 2018].

[5] Reuters (2018) Lawmakers publish evidence that Cambridge Analytica work helped Brexit group. [online]. Available at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-facebook-cambridge-analytica-britain/lawmakers-publish-evidence-that-cambridge-analytica-work-helped-brexit-group-idUSKBN1HN2H5 [Accessed 10 Jul. 2018].

[6] Cadwalladr, C. (2018) Facebook suspends data firm hired by Vote Leave over alleged Cambridge Analytica ties. The Guardian, [online]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/apr/06/facebook-suspends-aggregate-iq-cambridge-analytica-vote-leave-brexit [Accessed 10 Jul. 2018].

[7] Cadwalladr, C. (2018) The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked. The Guardian, [online]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-robbery-hijacked-democracy [Accessed 10 Jul. 2018].

[8] Cadwalladr, C. (2018) The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked. The Guardian, [online]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-robbery-hijacked-democracy [Accessed 10 Jul. 2018].

[9] Badshah, N. (2018) Facebook to contact 87 million users affected by data breach. The Guardian, [online]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/08/facebook-to-contact-the-87-million-users-affected-by-data-breach [Accessed 10 Jul. 2018].

[10] Cadwalladr, C., Graham-Harrison, E. (2018) Cambridge Analytica: links to Moscow oil firm and St Petersburg university. The Guardian, [online]. Available at:  https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/17/cambridge-academic-trawling-facebook-had-links-to-russian-university [Accessed 10 Jul. 2018].

[11] Cadwalladr, C. (2018) The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked. The Guardian, [online]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-robbery-hijacked-democracy [Accessed 10 Jul. 2018].

[12] Jones, J., M. (2016) Trump Favorability Up, but Trails Other Presidents-Elect. Gallup, [online]. Available at: http://news.gallup.com/poll/197576/trump-favorability-trails-presidents-elect.aspx [Accessed 10 Jul. 2018].

[13] The New York Times (2017) Presidential Election Results: Donald J. Trump Wins. [online]. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/elections/results/president [Accessed 10 Jul. 2018].

[14] Sharman, J. (2016)  Hillary Clinton wins 2,864,974 more votes than Donald Trump, final US election count shows. Independent, [online]. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/hillary-clinton-3-million-popular-vote-donald-trump-us-election-a7487901.html [Accessed 10 Jul. 2018].

[15] Smith, D. (2017) Donald Trump sworn in as 45th president of the United States. The Guardian, [online]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/20/president-donald-trump-inauguration-sworn-in [Accessed 10 Jul. 2018].

 

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