Former Trump campaign official Rick Gates reportedly “requested proposals” from an Israeli company in 2016 that suggested using “fake online identities” for “social media manipulation and to gather intelligence to help defeat Republican primary race opponents and Hillary Clinton,” The New York Times reports. Psy-Group, which is reportedly staffed by ex-Israeli intelligence operatives, created proposals under the name “Project Rome.” One of them included a “monthslong plan” that reportedly aimed to sow division “among rival campaigns and factions” through social media. Another proposal suggested using “bogus personas” on social media to “target and sway 5,000 delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention” against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who was reportedly Trump’s main opponent at the time.
The Times reports that the company’s pitches appear “unconnected” to the Russian influence campaign during the 2016 election, and there is “no evidence” that the Trump campaign acted on any of the Psy-Group proposals. The newspaper reports that the company’s owner, Joel Zamel, met with Donald Trump Jr. in August 2016. Investigators with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, who are investigating Russian collusion in the 2016 election, reportedly “obtained copies of the proposals and questioned Psy-Group employees.”