AP NEWS

Rick Gates sought to create fake online personas to help the Trump campaign: Report

October 9, 2018

Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates reached out to an Israeli company in 2016 and asked for proposals to run a disinformation campaign, including creating fake online identities, to help President Trump win the primary and general election, The New York Times reported Monday.

Gates, the longtime business associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, earlier this year pleaded guilty in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

The Times said Gates sought a proposal from Psy-Group, a company founded by Israeli intelligence officers.

There is no indication the Trump campaign acted on the proposal, The Times said, but the firm’s owner, Joel Zamel, did meet with Donald Trump Jr. in August 2016.

Mr. Zamel’s attorney told The Times the meeting at Trump Tower was just to outline the company’s capabilities in “general terms.”

Gates had hoped the fake identities would influence 5,000 Republican delegates by attacking Mr. Trump’s toughest primary opponent, Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican. He also planned to compile “intelligence dossiers” on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her aides.

The Israeli company’s proposal is separate from the disinformation campaign waged by Russia during the 2016 campaign, The Times said. However, Mr. Mueller has copies of the proposal and has questioned Psy-Group employees, according to the article.

Gates pleaded guilty earlier this year to making false statements to FBI agents and conspiracy against the United States. He is cooperating with the special counsel’s office and was the star witness against Manafort at his August financial fraud trial.

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