Published: Tue, October 09, 2018

Israeli firm pitched social media manipulation to Trump campaign

Israeli firm pitched social media manipulation to Trump campaign

The meeting allegedly took place in August 2016 after Donald Trump's top campaign aide, Rick Gates, requested proposals from Psy-Group to help defeat Republican primary opponents and Clinton with online manipulation.

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.

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 campaign official, Rick Gates, was ultimately not interested in the company's work, a person with knowledge of the discussions told the Times.

A lawyer for Zamel denied to the Times that he had discussed the proposal with anyone from the Trump campaign. Ted Cruz (R-TX), then Trump's main Republican opponent, away from him and toward Trump.


There was also a proposal "using social media to help expose or amplify division among rival campaigns and factions"--one that involved nicknames like "Lion" for Trump, "Forest" for Hillary Clinton, and "Bear" for Ted Cruz.

A separate proposal related to opposition research and "complementary intelligence activities" about Clinton and people close to her, according to copies of the proposals obtained Times and interviews with four people involved in creating the documents.

Mueller's team has obtained copies of the proposals and questioned Psy-Group, the Times said, adding it was unclear whether the proposals would have violated laws governing foreign involvement in U.S. elections.

Twelve Russian intelligence officers were then indicted in July over large-scale cyber operations to interfere in the election by hacking Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic Party.

For example, one proposal suggested creating fake online personas to bombard delegates to the GOP nominating convention with narratives about Cruz's "ulterior motives or hidden plans".

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