Wed, Oct 10, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Report says Trump chief sought Israeli help during election

AFP, WASHINGTON

A top official in US President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign requested proposals from an Israeli company to help defeat Republican primary opponents and former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton with online manipulation, the New York Times reported on Monday.

There was no evidence that the Trump campaign followed through on the proposals to use social media manipulation and intelligence gathering, the paper said.

Citing interviews and copies of the proposals, the Times said that the effort by Rick Gates seemed unrelated to Russian efforts to interfere in the election.

Gates is Trump’s former deputy campaign chief and among more than 30 people indicted by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The Times reported that Gates sought a proposal to use bogus personas to target and sway delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention by attacking US Senator Ted Cruz.

Another proposal described opposition research and “complementary intelligence activities” about Clinton, the report said.

A third proposal by the company Psy-Group, staffed by former Israeli intelligence operatives, outlined a plan to help Trump using social media to reinforce divisions among rivals, the report said.

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

In February, Gates pledged to cooperate with Mueller as he pleaded guilty to defrauding the US by failing to report offshore bank accounts and to one count of lying about his work as a foreign agent for Ukraine.

The same month, Mueller indicted 13 Russians and three firms in connection with an enterprise to interfere with the US political system using social media.

Twelve Russian intelligence officers were then indicted in July over cyberoperations to interfere in the election by hacking Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic Party.

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