The Times said Gates sought a proposal from Psy-Group, a company founded by Israeli intelligence officers. Similar to the disinformation campaigns that Russian operatives were launching around the same time, Psy-Group also suggested that the campaign use social media to highlight polarization in the U.S. Ted Cruz of Texas, Trump's main opponent at the time, in order to sway 5,000 delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention in Trump's favor.
Then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks as then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump listens during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, October 9, 2016.
The Trump campaign's involvement with Psy-Group was discovered by investigators working for Robert Mueller. Trump was nicknamed "Lion", for example, while Clinton was referred to as "Forest", according to the documents.
With that said, in August of 2016, just three months before the general election, Donald Trump Jr. met with the owner of Psy-Group, Joel Zamel, and shortly after the election Zamel received $2 million from George Nader, a senior adviser to the government of the United Arab Emirates.
A top Trump official reached out to an Israeli company in 2016 to gain information on online manipulation, according to documents obtained by the New York Times.
Another proposal offered opposition research about Hillary Clinton and people close to her. 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. He went on to testify against Manafort, who was found guilty of tax and bank fraud, .
The August 3 Trump Tower meeting is a focus of the ongoing investigation by Robert Mueller, the special counsel, who was tasked previous year with examining possible cooperation and coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation in the lead-up to the election.
Though it appears that Trump campaign officials declined to accept any of the proposals, Zamel pitched the company's services in at least general terms during a meeting on August 3, 2016, at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr.
The reason for the payment has been of keen interest to Mueller, according to people familiar with the matter.