Rick Gates Solicited Proposal For Online Disinformation Campaign to Help Trump

This 1998 frame from video provided by C-SPAN shows George Nader president and editor of Middle East Insight

This 1998 frame from video provided by C-SPAN shows George Nader president and editor of Middle East Insight

A senior Trump campaign official approached an Israeli intelligence company for proposals on building a campaign involving fake social media accounts and social media manipulation to influence Republican party voters in a bid to help defeat then-candidate Donald Trump's rivals and afterwards Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

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.

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.

The Trump campaign apparently did not express interest in the proposals, and its unclear whether the activities would have fallen afoul of United States laws prohibiting foreign interference in elections.

While the media has been focussed on Russia's social media manipulation and election interference efforts in 2016, it appears that Russian Federation was not the only ones trying to distort America's views with fake social media profiles.

Psy-Group's owner, Joel Zamel, did meet with Donald Trump Jr.in August 2016, according to the Times. Psy-Group came up with several proposals, which it dubbed "Project Rome". Last year, Rick Gates and his boss, Paul Manafort, were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller's team on multiple counts of fraud and tax evasion.

Zamel's lawyer tells the Times that the Trump Tower meeting was cursory.

"Mr. Zamel never pitched, or otherwise discussed, any of Psy-Group's proposals relating to the US 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", said the lawyer, Marc Mukasey.

Psy-Group claimed that it would provide "all services in accordance with the laws and regulations of the country/ies in which they are conducted". The Times reports there's no evidence Gates acted on Psy-Group's proposals.

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.