Israeli help reportedly sought in '16 race

New York Times: Top Trump campaign official requested online manipulation plans from Israeli company

That's according to The New York Times, which reports Gates contacted Psy-Group, a company staffed by former Israeli intelligence agents, seeking ways to undermine Hillary Clinton's campaign.

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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.

Nevertheless, the Times found no evidence that the Trump campaign ultimately accepted and employed the services of Psy-Group.

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Gates first heard about Psy-Group's work during a March 2016 meeting at the Mandarin Oriental hotel along the Washington waterfront with George Birnbaum, a Republican consultant with close ties to current and former Israeli government officials. Cruz, at the time, was the only person standing between Donald Trump and the Republican nomination.

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. "Another proposal describes opposition research and "complementary intelligence activities" about Mrs. Clinton and people close to her". And as we now know, political data firm Cambridge Analytica also aided the Trump campaign with information from more than 50 million Facebook users. The Times reports there's no evidence Gates acted on Psy-Group's proposals. Gates was indicted along with Paul Manafort in 2017 and is cooperating with the Mueller investigation which is focusing on an alleged $2 million payment to Zamel from George Nader, which came shortly after the 2016 election.

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. "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 Mr. Trump's favor".

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