World

Trump aide 'sought Israeli help' against rival campaigns

Trump aide 'sought Israeli help' against rival campaigns

One of President Donald Trump's campaign aides, Rick Gates, asked an Israeli firm to make fake identities online and use social media to manipulate and gather intelligence in order to beat other Republican candidates and Hillary Clinton, the New York Times reported on Sunday. Though the Israeli company's pitches were narrower than Moscow's interference campaign and appear unconnected, the documents show that a senior Trump aide saw the promise of a disruption effort to swing voters in Trump's favor.

The bogus online personas would be created to sway 5,000 delegates at the 2016 Republican National Convention by attacking Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). A second proposal involved collecting opposition and "complementary intelligence activities" on Hillary Clinton, according to the Times.

Clinton's response was referring to Trump's comments at a July 2016 news conference in which he asked Russian Federation to hack Clinton's emails from her time as secretary of State and make them public.

As part of the Mueller probe, Gates pled guilty previous year 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's owner, Joel Zamel, did meet with Donald Trump Jr.in August 2016, according to the Times.




"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", Mukasey added. The campaign official, Rick Gates, was ultimately not interested in the company's work, a person with knowledge of the discussions told the Times. Gates had joined the Trump campaign days earlier with Paul Manafort, his longtime business partner, to try to prevent a revolt of Republican delegates from Trump toward Cruz.

"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", said the lawyer, Marc Mukasey. That meeting, revealed in May by The Times, was also attended by George Nader, an emissary from the ruler of the United Arab Emirates. Psy-Group came up with several proposals, which it dubbed "Project Rome".

A lawyer for Zamel denied to the Times that he had discussed the proposal with anyone from the Trump campaign.

That same month, Mueller indicted 13 Russians and three companies in connection with a wide-ranging, multimillion-dollar enterprise to interfere with and "sow discord" in the American political system using social media.

The reason for the payment has been of keen interest to Mueller, according to people familiar with the matter.


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