Trump Team Sought Israeli Firm's Help to Defeat 'Bear'

Clay Curtis
October 10, 2018

Rick Gates, a former campaign adviser to President Donald Trump, reportedly "requested proposals" from an Israeli company in 2016 to create fake online identities to help then-candidate Trump's campaign. Psy-Group worked up at least three proposals under the code name "Project Rome" to help Trump ("Lion") defeat Cruz ("Bear") and Hillary Clinton ("Forest").

Another goal was to convert Cruz supporters into Trump supporters because Trump's team feared the Texas senator would lead a revolt over the Republican presidential nomination. The company is staffed by former Israeli intelligence officials.

Psy-Group created several secretive proposals for the Trump campaign at the behest of Rick Gates, who has since pleaded guilty and offered to cooperate with the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into foreign meddling in the USA election, The New York Times reported.

Richard Gates leaves the Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, DC, after a hearing on February 23, 2018.

Gates ultimately rejected the company's social media campaigns, according to the Times.

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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 August 2016. 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.

US Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating those Russian efforts, as well as possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Moscow.

A third proposal by Psy-Group outlined a plan to use social media to expose or amplify division among rival campaigns and factions, the Times reports.

"Mr Zamel never pitched, or otherwise discussed, any of Psy-Group's proposals relating to the U.S. elections with anyone related to the Trump campaign, including not with Donald Trump Jr., except for outlining the capabilities of some of his companies in general terms", Zamel's lawyer, Marc Mukasey, said in a statement as cited by The Times. "He was not interested and that was the end of it".

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