THE PROGRESSIVE REVIEW - March 22, 2018
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*-- Congress divided over calling Cambridge Analytica, Facebook to testify --*
There's partisan debate on Capitol Hill on what to do about an analytics firm that purportedly mined data from millions of Facebook users for political purposes.
Some members of Congress want answers, calling for formal questioning of Cambridge Analytica officials as well as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who did not immediately acknowledge the possible data breach. Both companies deny wrongdoing.
The call for more questioning comes after a video aired showing an undercover reporter with executives from Cambridge Analytica, the data mining firm credited with helping Donald Trump win the U.S. presidency in 2016.
The video showed Cambridge CEO Alexander Nix saying the firm could secretly film political rivals by arranging smear campaigns, setting up encounters with prostitutes and staging bribery situations.
Nix said the documentary was "edited and scripted to grossly represent the nature of those conversations," and claims the conversations were led by the reporters.
"I must emphatically state that Cambridge Analytica does not condone or engage in entrapment, bribes or so-called 'honeytraps,' and nor does it use untrue material for any purpose," Nix said.
Lawmakers involved in congressional investigations of Russia have called for Cambridge leaders to testify on Capitol Hill.
Last year, the firm gave the House intelligence committee documents about its work with the Trump campaign. The committee also interviewed Nix via video conference.
The panel's ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the interviews need to continue.
"We need to bring [Nix] back. I also think we need to bring in the other witnesses from Cambridge Analytica that we had asked the majority to previously [agree to]," Schiff said, referencing Democrats' calls for interviews with other Cambridge Analytica executives and GOP donor Rebekah Mercer, whose father Robert helped create the political data firm.
Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said he does not see a need to question Cambridge Analytica further.
"I have no intention of bringing in any other witnesses for the Russia investigation," Conaway said.
Conaway deferred the decision to committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who will control whether to bring in new witnesses related to the Russia investigation after the panel issues its final report on the matter.
Sunday, Massachusetts' attorney general said her office is launching an investigation into both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.
"Massachusetts residents deserve answers immediately from Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. We are launching an investigation," Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey tweeted Saturday.
A day earlier, Facebook said it suspended Cambridge because it violated the social media company's policies.
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