Three months before the US general elections, the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., met with a group of specialists to get the upper hand against Democratic rival Hilary Clinton—among which was "an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation" now embroiled in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible Russian elections meddling and violations by Trump's campaign team, according to The New York Times.
The specialist, Joel Zamel, is the founder and one of the owners of Psy-Group, which was working at the time on a proposal for Trump's campaign team for a "covert multimillion-dollar online manipulation campaign to help elect Mr. Trump," according to three people involved and a fourth briefed on the effort.
Both Trump and Zamel denied moving forward with the campaign, noting it was scrapped after Psy-Group consulted an American law firm who informed it of its illegality, as foreign states, companies or individuals are forbidden from being involved in any US elections.
Despite this, Zamel was reportedly paid some $2 million after the election by one of Trump's associates.
Zamel has since been questioned about the August 2016 meeting by Mueller's investigators. Additionally, "at least two FBI agents working on the inquiry" have traveled to Israel to interview Psy-Group employees.
According to one source cited by The NYT, the special counsel's team has worked with the Israeli police to "seize the computers of one of Mr. Zamel's companies."
Investigators have also examined Zemel's ties in Russia.
According to the report, wich was published on Saturday, one of Zemel's companies worked with oligarchs related to Russian President Vladimir Putin, including Oleg V. Deripaska and Dmitry Rybolovlev, who hired his company to conduct online campaigns against their competitors.
A lawyer representing Zemel denied that his client or any of his companies had been involved in any way in the US elections, noting he is cooperating fully with investigators and that "the US Justice Department clarified from Day one that Joel and his companies have never been a target of the investigation."