[PHOTO: Psy Group's headquarters in Israel, via]
Former Donald Trump presidential campaign aide Rick Gates is cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe, and has provided info on a firm in the Middle East that is reported to have worked with the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 U.S. election.
This isn't the first time the Trump campaign's connections to Psy-Group, a 'troll factory' tied to Israeli military intelligence, has come up in the news. The New York Times ran a story in October, and Salon in November.
But it's the first time anyone has reported the SCO looking into it.
Gates has answered questions specifically about Psy Group, an Israeli firm that ex-employees say drew up social media manipulation plans to help the Trump campaign, according to sources familiar with the questions. Mueller's team also asked Gates about interactions with Psy Group's owner, Joel Zamel, and Lebanese-American businessman George Nader, who worked as an emissary for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the sources said.
On Tuesday, Mueller's team said that Gates was cooperating with "several ongoing investigations" in asking a federal judge to delay his sentencing for financial crimes he pleaded guilty to committing with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. One of the ongoing investigations is into possible Middle Eastern election influence, three people with knowledge of the probe told The Daily Beast.
Psy-Group shut down shortly after the Mueller probe began looking into their activities in 2018, after that NYT report. The operation is reportedly known by other names, including Invop.
A company by the name of Invop Ltd. is listed on the Israeli state registrar's database.
IMAGE, below: From 2018 in the New York Times, an excerpt of documents from Psy-Group laying out its proposals for the Trump campaign.
The SCO has examined whether Zamel's interactions with the Trump team, and his conversations about a plan to help Trump win the election, overlapped or coincided with conversations Psy Group employees had with Birnbaum and Gates. https://t.co/zr2ES3XICu
— Erin Banco (@ErinBanco) January 16, 2019
Dems shouldn't be building a Cambridge Analytica and PSY Group for the Left. Just let the stories behind these companies continue to unravel. Help fight for data protection rights and muscular enforcement that curtails dark money and data in our elections. https://t.co/S1QBvCGvG0
— David Carroll ? (@profcarroll) December 20, 2018
What's going here? The post 9/11 "hearts and minds" PSYOPs designed to fight terror have been repurposed for political campaigns, while also leveraged by foreign influence operations like Putin's IRA or campaign-facing troll factories like PSY Group. https://t.co/aeXN4DJoOe
— David Carroll ? (@profcarroll) December 18, 2018
Why did at least three members of Donald Trump's campaign contact PSY Group, a firm with ties to Israeli spies? https://t.co/rnxvkWPWPZ
— Justin Hendrix (@justinhendrix) December 1, 2018