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2018-05-18 digital edition
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May 18, 2018  RSS feed
World News

Text: T T T

Mueller’s team questioning Israeli-run social media firm about its efforts to help elect Trump

(JTA) – U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller has sent investigators to Israel to uncover the activities of an Israeli-run social media firm that may have led a social media manipulation effort to help Donald Trump get elected.

The co-founder of the firm, identified as Joel Zamel, who was born in Australia, met in New York three months before the 2016 election with Donald Trump Jr., as well as with Lebanese-American businessman George Nader representing the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who he said wanted to help get his father elected, according to a New York Times report.

The Aug. 3, 2016, meeting was arranged by Erik Prince, the founder and former head of private military contractor Blackwater, who also attended the meeting. (Prince is the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos).

It is illegal for foreign governments or individuals to be involved in American elections.

The Israel Police and Zamel are cooperating with the investigation, according to the Times.

After Trump was elected, Nader reportedly paid Zamel a large sum of money, reportedly up to $2 million, because among other reasons given, a company linked to Zamel provided Nader with an elaborate presentation about the significance of social media campaigning to Trump’s victory.

Zamel told the Times that his client never carried out any campaign on Trump’s behalf.

A company connected to Zamel, Psy- Group, had been working on a proposal for a covert multimillion-dollar online manipulation campaign to help elect Trump, the Times reported. The plan involved using thousands of fake social media accounts to promote Trump’s candidacy.

The company, whose motto is “shape reality,” consulted an American law firm, and was told that it would be illegal if any non- Americans were involved in the campaign.


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