NYT: Rick Gates sought plans to use fake online identities in Trump's 2016 campaign

Source: The Hill | October 8, 2018 | Michael Burke

Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates, who has pleaded guilty in Robert Mueller‘s special counsel investigation, sought proposals from an Israeli company in 2016 to create fake online identities in an effort to aid President Trump’s campaign, The New York Times reported Monday. 

Gates reportedly solicited plans to use social media manipulation and to gather intelligence to help Trump defeat his opponents in the Republican primary, as well as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in the general election.

Gates sought a proposal from a company staffed by former Israeli intelligence officers, Psy-Group, to use fake identities to sway 5,000 Republican National Convention delegates by attacking Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), an opponent of Trump’s at the time, according to the Times.

Mark Mazzetti, one of the Times reporters who authored the story, said Monday on CNN that the firm proposed using “40 to 50 people to create thousands of different identities — fake personas on Twitter, Facebook, et cetera.”

“And these would then target … delegates based on a psychological profile that the company built about the delegates — find out what most interested them. So you build a profile and use these avatars, bots, et cetera to spread messages, to try to influence their votes, to try to make sure that they stay on the Trump side,” Mazzetti added.

The Times reported that other proposals from the company included one that featured a plan to help Trump “by using social media to help expose or amplify division among rival campaigns and factions,” and another that offered opposition research about Clinton and her allies.

Psy-Group’s owner, Joel Zamel, reportedly met in August 2016 at Trump Tower with Donald Trump, Jr.

There is no evidence that the Trump campaign moved forward with the proposals. 

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