An Israeli private intelligence firm produced three separate proposals to manipulate social media in the U.S. and spread misinformation for the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential elections, according to a new report.
Psy-Group gave Gates at least three proposals that involved using social media manipulation to prop up then candidate Trump, according to copies of the plans obtained by the Times and interviews with four people involved in the documents' creation. Ted Cruz (R-TX), then Trump's main Republican opponent, away from him and toward Trump.
The Israeli company, Psy-Group, "is staffed by former Israeli intelligence operatives", The Times says. While, it is unknown if the Trump campaign actually acted on these proposal, sources told the New York Times that ultimately Rick Gates became disinterested in what Psy-Group had to offer.
Richard Gates leaves the Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, DC, after a hearing on February 23, 2018. The goal was always to help Trump win the presidency. However, the owner of Psy-Group, Joel Zamel, did meet with Donald Trump Jr.in August 2016. Psy-Group came up with several proposals, which it dubbed "Project Rome".
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US Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating those Russian efforts, as well as possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Moscow.
"Mr Zamel never pitched, or otherwise discussed, any of Psy-Group's proposals relating to the USA elections with anyone related to the Trump campaign, including not with Donald Trump Jr., except for outlining the capabilities of some of his companies in general terms", Zamel's lawyer, Marc Mukasey, said in a statement as cited by The Times.
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.
That meeting, revealed in May by The Times, was also attended by George Nader, an emissary from the ruler of the United Arab Emirates, and by Erik Prince, a Republican donor and the founder of the private security company formerly known as Blackwater.They pitched Mr. Trump Jr. on a social media platform or marketing strategy.