I've found dates and events when Paul (and John) made serious efforts to sabotage The Beatles:
1.) Paul's insistence that Capitol Records in the U.S. (owned by EMI in England) use the butcher photo for the Yesterday and Today album.
2.) Paul's London Evening Standard interview on March 25, 1966 with Maureen Cleeve where he said that America was racist.
3.) John's interview published in the Evening Standard on March 4, 1966 where he made the infamous "Beatles bigger than Jesus" comment.
4.) Paul's comment at the June 30, 1966 Tokyo press conference where he rated The Beatles' talent as "adequate."
5.) His hint, hint at the Radio Caroline interview of April 25, 1966 that The Beatles had doubles.
Was anybody in the hierarchy over The Beatles aware of the potential harm Paul's efforts was having on the Beatles' popularity? In England, Brian Epstein was, I believe, uneasy about The Beatles' image vis-a-vis America. Soon after the butcher cover photo session, but before the butcher photo made the cover the Yesterday and Today album, Epstein had Robert Whitaker--the butcher photo session photographer--and some Beatles come to his office so Whitaker could take an innocuous photo of "The Beatles" standing around--and "Paul" sitting in--a steamer trunk. There are internet site estimates that this photo was taken in late March or early April, 1966. In a photo I found [see below], George and Ringo are shown in Epstein's office on that day, looking at developed photos from the butcher photo shoot.
I said that Epstein had some Beatles in his office because Paul (and John) are NOT in the steamer trunk photo that was pasted over the butcher cover. Compare the photo below on the left with the photo on the right of Paul taken from the Paperback Writer/Rain promotional films of May, 1966. The face looks convincing but look at "Paul"'s shoulders. Was our Paul an American football player because the upper body of the Paul on the left is NOT the same as the real Paul on the right. (And this before the famous photo of a fake Paul standing backward on the Sgt. Pepper album.)
So I think Epstein--who apparently didn't know the sensibilities of Americans as well as Paul did--okayed the butcher cover photo release but hedged his bets by having a back-up photo because he suspected the butcher cover was part of Paul's plan for sabotaging The Beatles.
In America, there were two people who did know the extent of the damage the butcher cover could cause the popularity of The Beatles: Capitol Records' president, Alan W. Livingston and Capitol Records' Manager of Press & Information Services, Ron Tepper. In a June 14, 1966 letter to people who got advance copies of the butcher cover album, Tepper quotes Livingston who said:
"The original cover, created in England, was intended a 'pop art' satire. However, a sampling of public opinion in the United States indicates that the cover design is subject to misinterpretation. For this reason, and to avoid any possible controversy or undeserved harm to The Beatles' image or reputation, Capitol has chosen to withdraw the LP and substitute a more generally acceptable design." [See full letter below.]
You'll notice that Livingston emphasized that the photo was "created in England" not America, and that Capitol offered to pay the cost of shipping the album back.
The Yesterday and Today album with the bland (and deceptive) cover was in U.S. stores on June 20, 1966. But the furor the original cover photo caused showed that the damage Paul had intended, was already done.