Trump campaign sought Israeli help in 2016, says NYT

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Zamel has been questioned by investigators for the special counsel, according to the reports, and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have traveled to Israel to interview employees about the proposal and have asked Israeli police to seize computers from Psy-Group's Petah Tikva offices.

Campaign official Rick Gates reportedly requested information on how to create fake online personas, engage in social media manipulation, and gather information online to help Trump defeat his Republican primary opponents and eventually, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Psy-Group also proposed using social media to help "expose or amplify division among rival campaigns and factions". "Though the Israeli company's pitches were narrower than Moscow's interference campaign and appear unconnected, the documents show that a senior Trump aide saw the promise of a disruption effort to swing voters in Mr. Trump's favor", the New York Times says. Ted Cruz (R-TX), then Trump's main Republican opponent, away from him and toward Trump. The contacts between Gates and the Israeli company were first reported on Tuesday by the New York Times.

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In this June 21, 2017, photo, special counsel Robert Mueller departs after a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington.

In the document, Trump was code-named "Lion" and Clinton was "Forest".

The former secretary of State was reacting to an NBC News story that quoted Trump as saying at a Wednesday night campaign rally that "there was collusion between Hillary, the Democrats and Russian Federation". However, the owner of Psy-Group, Joel Zamel, did meet with Donald Trump August 2016.

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Another proposal described opposition research and "complementary intelligence activities" about Clinton, according to the report. Gates had joined the Trump campaign days earlier with Paul Manafort, his longtime business partner, to try to prevent a revolt of Republican delegates from Trump toward Cruz.

In February, Gates pledged to cooperate with Mueller as he pleaded guilty to defrauding the U.S. by failing to report offshore banking accounts, as well as to one count of lying over his work as a foreign agent for Ukraine. He went on to testify against Manafort, who was found guilty of tax and bank fraud, . Psy-Group came up with several proposals, which it dubbed "Project Rome".

The reason for the payment has been of keen interest to Mueller, according to people familiar with the matter.

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