Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign sought to deter millions of Black Americans in battleground states from voting by targeting them with negative Hillary Clinton ads on Facebook, an investigation broadcast Monday by Channel 4 News in London claims.Channel 4 News says it obtained a leaked database of voter profiles used by the Trump campaign that included a category called “deterrence,” meaning voters who were likely to cast their ballots for Clinton or to not vote at all.
These 3.5 million voters, who were disproportionately Black, were targeted with “dark” ads to dissuade them from backing Clinton, according to the report. The report credits Cambridge Analytica, the Trump-connected data analysis firm that gained unauthorized access to tens of millions of Facebook profiles, with orchestrating the strategy.
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh dismissed the report as “fake news,” and said the president has built “a relationship of trust with African American voters,” with initiatives on criminal justice reform, opportunity zones and a recent announcement to invest $500 billion in the Black community.
Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for vice president, struck back Monday, saying Republicans approved laws to suppress the vote and that Trump’s appointees to the federal bench have issued rulings restricting the eligibility of voters. She urged voters to oppose Trump and Senate Republicans in the upcoming election, to prevent more conservative judges from being appointed to federal courts.
“Here’s the thing: He knows he can’t win if the people vote,” Harris said. “Donald Trump is weak so he is throwing up every roadblock he can to try and suppress the vote. We the people cannot let him get away with it.”According to the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research’s voting data from five previous presidential elections, the Democratic candidate has averaged 91% of the Black vote.