VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Jack Bryan On Documentary ‘Active Measures’ Part 2: Cambridge Analytica, Julian Assange-Russia Connection
In an exclusive interview with uPolitics.com, Bryan explained the connections between Russian oligarchs and Trump-linked organizations like Cambridge Analytica, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year following a massive scandal involving Facebook user data.
“What we found was that Cambridge Analytica is owned by a company called SCL [Group], which is a global interruption agency” Bryan said. “You can trace that company back to a London-[based] Israeli man who has basically for a very long time been creating fronts for Dmitry Firtash, who was Paul Manafort‘s funder in Ukraine and was working with the Russian mafia in Ukraine, particularly [mob boss] Semion Mogilevich.”
Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm founded in 2013 that has ties to the Trump Organization, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York in May in the wake of reports that it had improperly harvested private information from approximately 87 million Facebook users in order to influence the 2016 presidential election. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was forced to testify before lawmakers about the controversy.
Bryan notes that many members of Trump’s administration — like his first National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former White House strategist Steve Bannon — had a stake in Cambridge Analytica, something federal investigators have looked into.
The Active Measures director also discussed the amount of influence he believes Russia was able to have on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. WikiLeaks was infamously found to have hacked the Democratic National Committee’s email servers during the 2016 election.
“I think Assange was not ideologically aligned with Vladimir Putin,” said Bryan. “I think it was [an example of] coercion, and a little bit of ego. I think [Assange] was in a bad situation: the Americans were after him, he blamed Hillary Clinton for that, and this became a port in a storm.”
“[Assange] had a television show on [Russian international TV network] RT and has certainly been supporting Russian talking points since the beginning,” Bryan said. “My guess is that this was his sort of lifeline. According to him, he helped Edward Snowden get into Russia, so there is certainly a relationship there.”
The director also said the Assange-Russia relationship was likely a “marriage of necessity or convenience,” at least in the eyes of the WikiLeaks founder.
Bryan went on to describe the financial negotiations and transactions that occurred between Russia’s Alfa Bank and Trump Tower over the course of the 2016 election cycle. The filmmaker said a team of reporters who had learned of the activity asked Alfa Bank about this, and the server at Trump Tower that connected the two organizations shut off just hours later.
According to Bryan, Alfa Bank executives initially denied the existence of said server and then claimed it was real but that it hadn’t been operational since 2010. The bank’s officials also dismissed the suspicious activity that had surfaced as spam, although the nature of the information did not appear to be spam.
Bryan described himself as an admirer of Russian history and culture, including the country’s literature and film, but unequivocally admitted that Trump blindly repeating Russian talking points was something extremely concerning.
“When you have talking points that don’t have any consistency other than favoring the Russian state and would hurt America’s allegiances overseas, it becomes a problem of us hurting ourselves,” he said. “I don’t see the upside to helping Putin on this one.”
Bryan also discussed the emergence of several Republican politicians who have voiced pro-Russia views, and why this has happened. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher are two examples of GOP lawmakers who have made several comments defending Russian and its government, including Putin.
“The reason 2016 Trump campaign senior adviser J.D. Gordon gives makes very little sense: he claims that months earlier, Trump had vaguely suggested this might fall in line with his thinking, and he therefore made a change to the [GOP] platform without further instruction. That might have been slightly believable had there been any other changes they made to the platform at all, but there weren’t.”
Late Sen. John McCain is shown discussing his views on this issue in Active Measures.