Trump team asked Israel firm to create election smear campaign

This 1998 frame from video provided by C-SPAN shows George Nader president and editor of Middle East Insight

Robert Mueller and the Special Counsel's office are now investigating these proposals according to the New York Times.

One of President Donald Trump's campaign aides, Rick Gates, asked an Israeli firm to make fake identities online and use social media to manipulate and gather intelligence in order to beat other Republican candidates and Hillary Clinton, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

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.

The Time adds there is "no evidence that the Trump campaign acted on the proposals".

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.

As part of the Mueller probe, Gates pled guilty a year ago to charges of conspiracy against the United States and making false statements, related to the work his former boss and Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort did in Ukraine.

The Trump campaign's interest in the work began as Russians were escalating their effort to aid Trump.

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In the document, Trump was code-named "Lion" and Clinton was "Forest". However, the owner of Psy-Group, Joel Zamel, did meet with Donald Trump Jr.in August 2016.

A separate proposal related to opposition research and "complementary intelligence activities" about Clinton and people close to her, according to copies of the proposals obtained Times and interviews with four people involved in creating the documents.

Gates, along with Paul Manafort, were indicted for tax evasion and financial fraud last fall. Gates pleaded guilty to lying to investigators and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel's probe.

Zamel and George Nader, an emissary from the United Arab Emirates who was at the meeting with Trump Jr., gave different accounts as to whether Zamel ever implemented his proposal.

Zamel's lawyer tells the Times that the Trump Tower meeting was cursory. Psy-Group came up with several proposals, which it dubbed "Project Rome".

At the meeting, Birnbaum recalls that Gates was interested in using social media manipulation and influence to sway Republican delegates away from primary challenger Cruz.

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