Wednesday, 20 February, 2019

Mueller Finds That Trump Campaign Sought "Social Media Manipulation" Service

Richard Gates leaves the Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington DC after a hearing Richard Gates leaves the Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington DC after a hearing
Melinda Barton | 10 October, 2018, 05:26

Gates ultimately rejected the company's social media campaigns, according to the Times. Mueller has reportedly seen the plans and has questioned Psy-Group employees, per sources who spoke with the Times.

Before Donald Trump locked up the GOP nomination in 2016, Rick Gates, the one-time deputy to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, reached out to Israeli intelligence firm Psy-Group and asked for proposals for running an online disinformation campaign, according to the New York Times.

One proposal request included using "bogus personas to target and sway 5,000 delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention by attacking Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Mr. Trump's main opponent at the time", the Times reports.

Then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks as then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump listens during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, October 9, 2016.

Psy-Group's owner, Joel Zamel, did meet with Donald Trump August 2016, according to the Times.

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.

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.

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

While there is no evidence that the plans were implemented, the fact that a Trump campaign official covertly sought to manipulate social media plays into the claim that Russian Federation used social media to help Trump. The barrage of messages would continue for months and include "both online and offline" approaches, even telephone calls. On top of this, the company suggested "tailored third-party messaging" targeting minority, suburban female and undecided voters.