The corruption in the 2016 Trump campaign just gets more tangled with each new piece of news, and Monday’s bombshell was no exception. Just one week after The New York Times exposed Trump as a tax fraud and failed businessman, another shoe in the Russian collusion investigation dropped.
According to The Times:
‘A top Trump campaign official requested proposals in 2016 from an Israeli company to create fake online identities, to use social media manipulation and to gather intelligence to help defeat Republican primary race opponents and Hillary Clinton, according to interviews and copies of the proposals.’
A Trump campaign aide sought proposals in 2016 from an Israeli firm to create fake online profiles and gather intelligence on opponents https://t.co/iLz1rhr9P9
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 8, 2018
Reporters discovered that Trump campaign official and Paul Manafort associate Rick Gates sought the services of the Israeli company Psy-Group, to conduct the exact same social media campaign that Russian government operatives ran to help Trump win. The NYT says that “narrower than Moscow’s interference campaign and appear unconnected,” but the implications this new information has on the Russian collusion scandal are enormous.
According to the report, three proposals were laid out in documents sent to Gates by Psy-Group. Of special significance was the second proposal.
‘A second proposal focused on gathering information about Mrs. Clinton and 10 of her associates through publicly available data as well as unspecified “complementary intelligence activities.” Psy-Group promised to prepare a comprehensive dossier on each of the targets, including “any actionable intelligence.”’
Gates sought these services, although there is no evidence yet that he signed an agreement or contracted the company at all. However, it is now apparent that Donald Trump, Jr. was involved in these discussions, similar in tone and content to his meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 with Russian government operatives offering the same kind of services.
‘Though it appears that Trump campaign officials declined to accept any of the proposals, Mr. Zamel pitched the company’s services in at least general terms during a meeting on Aug. 3, 2016, at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr. That meeting, revealed in May by The Times, was also attended by George Nader, an emissary from the ruler of the United Arab Emirates, and by Erik Prince, a Republican donor and the founder of the private security company formerly known as Blackwater.’
Unfortunately for Trump and the members of Psy-Group, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has conducted hours of interviews with employees at the Israeli firm and is interested in this development within his investigation into the alleged collusion between the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and Russian government officials to have a hostile foreign country intervene to help their chosen candidate win the White House.
‘Mr. Nader and Mr. Zamel have given differing accounts over whether Mr. Zamel ultimately carried out the social media effort to help the Trump campaign and why Mr. Nader paid him $2 million after the election, according to people who have discussed the matter with the two men.
‘The reason for the payment has been of keen interest to Mr. Mueller, according to people familiar with the matter.’
Featured image via Flickr by Gage Skidmore under a Creative Commons license