01:40 GMT17 April 2021
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    US President Donald Trump’s former deputy campaign chair reportedly spoke to Israeli IT companies about online election meddling via social media.

    Trump's former deputy campaign chief, Rick Gates, negotiated with Israeli companies to get help in defeating both the Republican and Democratic opponents of his boss, according to a New York Times Monday report.

    The newspaper says it has no evidence that the campaign followed through the proposals to use social media manipulation and other unclean methods, however.

    According to Times, Gates proposed the use of fake online accounts to target and sway delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention by attacking Ted Cruz, Trump's primary opponent during the campaign.

    Another proposal cited by the newspaper included opposition research and "complementary intelligence activities" about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

    A third proposal by a company called Psy-Group, staffed by former Israeli intelligence operatives, offered to help Trump reinforce divisions among rivals by using social media, the report claims.

    The Nytimes report sounds strangely familiar, if one swapped alleged Russian trolls for Tel Aviv's finest geeks.

    According to the NYT, special counsel Robert Mueller, currently investigating alleged Russian meddling in the elections, reportedly obtained copies of proposals and even questioned Psy-Group.

    The NYT report underscores that it remains unclear whether the proposed plans of Gates would have violated US legislation on foreign nations meddling with American elections.

    In February, Gates pledged to cooperate with Mueller's ongoing investigation by pleading guilty to defrauding the United States in failing to report private offshore banking accounts, as well as one count of lying about his duties as a foreign agent for Ukraine, the report noted.


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    social media, election meddling, 2016 US presidential elections, Rick Gates, Donald Trump, Israel, US
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