Inside the Trump data bunker

By Josh Green and Sasha Issenberg

❝ On Oct. 19, as the third and final presidential debate gets going in Las Vegas, Donald Trump’s Facebook and Twitter feeds are being manned by Brad Parscale, a San Antonio marketing entrepreneur…Parscale is one of the few within Trump’s crew entrusted to tweet on his behalf…On the wall, a poster of Julian Assange reads: “Dear Hillary, I miss reading your classified emails.”…

❝ When the debate wraps, Parscale leaps up, open laptop still in hand, and bolts from the trailer with Priebus and the rest of the senior staff to congratulate Trump as he comes off the stage. In the wings, Parscale joins Steve Bannon, Trump’s Machiavelli and campaign chairman, on leave from Breitbart News Network…and a clutch of Trump children and their spouses…

Parscale, now tweeting from his own account, celebrates the night’s haul: “HUGE 24hrs of online donations for @realDonaldTrump. 125,000+ unique donors grossing over $9,000,000! Thank you America! #MAGA.”

❝ …Almost every public and private metric suggests Trump is headed for a loss, possibly an epic one. His frustrated demeanor on the campaign trail suggests he knows it. Yet even as he nears the end of his presidential run, his team is sowing the seeds of a new enterprise with a direct marketing effort that they insist could still shock the world on Election Day.

Beginning last November, then ramping up in earnest when Trump became the Republican nominee, Jared Kushner quietly built a sprawling digital fundraising database and social media campaign that’s become the locus of his father-in-law’s presidential bid. Trump’s top advisers won’t concede the possibility of defeat, but they’re candid about the value of what they’ve built even after the returns come in — and about Trump’s desire for influence regardless of outcome. “Trump is a builder,” says Bannon, in a rare interview. “And what he’s built is the underlying apparatus for a political movement that’s going to propel us to victory on Nov. 8 and dominate Republican politics after that.”

“When we won the nomination, we decided we were going to do digital fundraising and really ramp this thing up to the next level,” says a senior official…When Bannon joined the campaign in August, Project Alamo’s data began shaping even more of Trump’s political and travel strategy — and especially his fundraising. Trump himself was an avid pupil. Parscale would sit with him on the plane to share the latest data on his mushrooming audience and the $230 million they’ve funneled into his campaign coffers. Today, housed across from a La-Z-Boy Furniture Gallery along Interstate 410 in San Antonio, the digital nerve center of Trump’s operation encompasses more than 100 people, from European data scientists to gun-toting elderly call-center volunteers…

❝ Still, Trump’s reality is plain: He needs a miracle…To compensate for this, Trump’s campaign has devised another strategy, which, not surprisingly, is negative. Instead of expanding the electorate, Bannon and his team are trying to shrink it. “We have three major voter suppression operations under way,” says a senior official. They’re aimed at three groups Clinton needs to win overwhelmingly: idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans…

❝ Regardless of whether this works or backfires, setting back GOP efforts to attract women and minorities even further, Trump won’t come away from the presidential election empty-handed…Since Trump paid to build this audience with his own campaign funds, he alone will own it after Nov. 8 and can deploy it to whatever purpose he chooses. He can sell access to other campaigns or use it as the basis for a 2020 presidential run…

Whatever Trump decides, this group will influence Republican politics going forward. These voters, whom Cambridge Analytica has categorized as “disenfranchised new Republicans,” are younger, more populist and rural — and also angry, active, and fiercely loyal to Trump. Capturing their loyalty was the campaign’s goal all along. It’s why, even if Trump loses, his team thinks it’s smarter than political professionals. “We knew how valuable this would be from the outset,” says Parscale. “We own the future of the Republican Party.”

RTFA. There’s a lot of it. Josh Green and Sasha Issenberg have constructed a truly detailed blueprint of the Trump digital attack on electoral politics.

Contemptible, disgusting, certainly anti-democratic – are the qualities that leap out as the themes of the campaign, the politics of Trump, Bannon and the rest. They’ve used disaffected Republicans and Democrats to build a populist, racist, sexist juggernaut easily the equal of George Wallace’s White Citizens Council. And in an age easier to mobilize in any direction – or just for random destruction – they’re getting ready to march ahead of the cockroaches still officially in charge of the Republican Party.

What the Republicans will munch on if the Tea Party sheeple march off to Trump’s drummers is questionable. They may retain some figurehead positions, of course. Trump knows he can always count on the least-principled opportunists to back him up. Eh, Jason?

9 thoughts on “Inside the Trump data bunker

  1. Ozymandias says:

    Former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale hospitalized following reported suicide attempt
    “Parscale was lauded by the President and his allies as a digital guru who helped secure Trump’s first election effort. He worked for the Trump family years before Trump launched a presidential bid and he ascended to a role leading the campaign’s data analytics team in June 2016.
    After Trump won, Parscale worked with America First Policies, a pro-Trump political organization, and became campaign manager in February 2018.”

    “…Parscale had taken an unusually public role for a campaign manager, speaking at events and developing a prominent media persona.
    But he was demoted by Trump in July as the president’s reelection campaign suffered a series of blows. Among these was a campaign rally in Tulsa that was poorly attended, embarrassing the president, who had expected an overflow crowd. He has also been sharply criticized by both supporters and opponents of the president over extravagance with campaign money, including millions in payments to his own companies.”

    “The 2020 Election Will Be a War of Disinformation” (The Atlantic Feb 10, 2020)

    • p/s says:

      A dramatic police bodycam video released Monday shows Florida cops aggressively tackling former Trump presidential campaign chief Brad Parscale after a standoff outside his home, where his wife told officers that Parscale has hit her in the past, and was suicidal and armed.

    • Update says:

      Donald Trump’s demoted campaign boss Brad Parscale is under investigation for stealing between $25-$40 million from Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign, well-placed sources exclusively told
      The 44-year-old is also being investigated for pocketing nearly another $10 million from the Republican National Committee, the insiders added.
      The revelation comes as Parscale was involuntarily committed to a hospital by Fort Lauderdale police on Sunday following a concerning episode at his $2.4 million Florida home. (Daily Mail UK)

      “Men in Black” (1997)
      Cut to spread of tabloid newspapers at sidewalk newsstand as Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) picks up a handful
      Jay (Will Smith): *These* are the hot sheets?
      Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) : Best investigative reporting on the planet. Read the New York Times if you want, they get lucky sometimes.
      Jay : I cannot believe you’re looking for tips in the supermarket tabloids.
      Kay : [front-age article about farmer’s stolen skin] Not looking for. Found.

  2. Footnote says:

    (3/20/20) “RNC rehires firm responsible for massive data breach” (Politico)
    (3/9/20) “The Man Behind Trump’s Facebook Juggernaut : Brad Parscale used social media to sway the 2016 election. He’s poised to do it again.” (New Yorker)
    (2/28/20) “So, who remembers a story in 2017, whereby Republican data protection firms (Deep Root Analytics and two other Republican contractors) left nearly data for nearly 200 million voters unprotected online?” (Daily Kos)
    (9/11/19) “The Myths of the “Genius” Behind Trump’s Reelection Campaign : Brad Parscale has said he’s taking a relative pittance to run the president’s reelection operation. But as with much of what Parscale has claimed about his work and life, that’s not the full story. This is.” (ProPublica)
    (12/14/17) “Two senior House Democrats are pushing to subpoena Cambridge Analytica and Giles-Parscale, data consulting firms that worked for the Trump campaign, after both companies were asked about and failed to deny contacts with foreign governments during the 2016 election. The Democrats want to know if the firms or the Trump campaign shared information to help the Russian government or other groups target political messages on social media or otherwise meddle in the 2016 election in a bid to help defeat Hillary Clinton.” (Mother Jones)
    See also: Brad Parscale and [timelines of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections and investigations into Donald Trump and Russia (July–December 2017)]

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