Trump Official Sought Israeli Help to Disrupt Rival Campaigns

New York Times: Top Trump campaign official requested online manipulation plans from Israeli company

Trump Campaign Aide Rick Gates Reportedly Sought Proposals on Online ‘Manipulation’ from Israeli Intel Firm in 2016

A top Trump campaign official requested proposals in 2016 from an Israeli company to create fake online identities, to use social media manipulation and to gather intelligence to help defeat Republican primary race opponents and Hillary Clinton, according to interviews and copies of the proposals... And he wanted to use social media to sow division and deepen rifts among the American electorate.

Gates first heard about Psy-Group from GOP operative George Birnbaum, who has close ties to some Israeli politicians, a few days after joining the Trump campaign, according to the report.

Gates sought one proposal to use fake online profiles to attack Republican Sen. After compiling all information available on the target delegates the 40 Psy-Group employees would bombard up to 2,500 of them with socially tailored messages, both on and offline, including messages from "former Cruz supporters" describing Cruz's "ulterior motives or hidden plans". Trump was nicknamed "Lion".

The Times says there's no indication that the Trump campaign acted on the plans from Psy-Group, but the firm's owner, Joel Zamel, did land a Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr.in August of 2016. The price for Psy-Group's services was set at more than $3 million Dollars, according to the report.

Zamel and George Nader, an emissary from the United Arab Emirates who was at the meeting with Trump Jr., gave different accounts as to whether Zamel ever implemented his proposal. In addition, US Federal investigators presented a court order to the Israeli authorities to confiscate Psy-Group's computers.

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As part of the Mueller probe, Gates pled guilty a year ago to charges of conspiracy against the United States and making false statements, related to the work his former boss and Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort did in Ukraine.

Psy-Group is now in liquidation.

Zamel has been questioned by investigators for the special counsel, according to the reports, and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have traveled to Israel to interview employees about the proposal and have asked Israeli police to seize computers from Psy-Group's Petah Tikva offices. This special counsel is investigating Russia's role in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign colluded in those efforts.

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