While the media has been focussed on Russia’s social media manipulation and election interference efforts in 2016, it appears that Russia was not the only ones trying to distort America’s views with fake social media profiles.
According to the New York Times, who obtained copies of three different proposals and spoke to four people involved in creating the proposals, Trump campaign official Rick Gates sought out an Israeli firm called Psy-Group, which is staffed by multiple former Israeli intelligence agents, for three separate proposals. Robert Mueller and the Special Counsel’s office are now investigating these proposals according to the New York Times.
The first of three proposals. called “Project Rome” was one which would have used fake social media profiles to sway 5,000 Republican delegates away from Ted Cruz and towards Donald Trump. Cruz, at the time, was the only person standing between Donald Trump and the Republican nomination. The second proposal was for opposition research with “complementary intelligence activities” on Hillary Clinton and people close to her. The third and final proposal sought to use social media to amplify divisions within rival campaigns, while amplifying those division using fake social media accounts.
If these proposals sound similar to what Russia tried to accomplish, that’s because they are. While, it is unknown if the Trump campaign actually acted on these proposal, sources told the New York Times that ultimately Rick Gates became disinterested in what Psy-Group had to offer.
With that said, in August of 2016, just three months before the general election, Donald Trump Jr. met with the owner of Psy-Group, Joel Zamel, and shortly after the election Zamel received $2 million from George Nader, a senior adviser to the government of the United Arab Emirates. What makes things even more suspicious is that Nader also met with Donald Trump Jr. in August 2016 at Trump Tower to offer his assistance to the campaign.