The TRUTH Social website is seen on a mobile device with an image of former US president Donald Trump in the background in this photo illustration in Warsaw, Poland on 23 February, 2022.
Nurphoto | Getty Images
Months after Donald Trump began building his social media platform, Truth Social, he considered jumping ship and backing a competitor, according to an insider account.
Trump Media founders and former “Apprentice” contestants Andy Litinsky and Wes Moss first met with Trump over burgers and ice cream on Jan. 26, 2021 — according to a daily log of dealings within the company provided by founder and whistleblower Will Wilkerson — weeks after Trump was banned from Twitter following the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot. The meeting was referred to internally as “the cheeseburger summit.”
Litinsky and Moss officially partnered with Trump through their company, United Atlantic Ventures, in February 2021 to build Trump Media and Technology Group, the company behind Truth Social.
On June 11, 2021, however, Litinsky and Moss worried privately about a potential “meltdown” as Trump considered backing his former aide Jason Miller’s Gettr app, CNBC has learned. As Trump weighed the Gettr offer, he also had a call with the right-wing social platform Parler, according to the internal log, which offered the ex-president a 12.5% stake.
Months after the initiation of the Trump Media and Truth Social project, Trump met with Gettr. He was offered $5 million a year for his participation, and, according to Wilkerson’s daily log, the Truth Social co-founders wondered if Trump would strike a “side deal.”
The Washington Post first reported Trump’s conversations with Gettr Monday. Parler did not immediately respond to request for comment.
The apps Paler, Truth Social, Rumble, Gettr, CloutHub and MeWe on an iPhone 12.
Christoph Dernbach | Picture Alliance | Getty Images
At issue, according to Wilkerson’s account, was whether Trump’s public statements would be exclusive to the Truth platform.
Trump signed an agreement with UAV dated Feb. 2, 2021 that dictated his and the Trump Organization’s responsibilities to Trump Media and Technology Group and Truth Social. The agreement also granted Trump 90% of the company’s shares.
Among these responsibilities included providing the intellectual property rights to the Trump name, logos, marks images, photos, videos and likeness, a key asset in many of Trump’s business dealings. As the company looked to go public through the special purpose acquisition company Digital World Acquisition Corp., internal documents seem to show that founders worried about their exclusivity with the Trump name.
According to internal emails, an alteration in the SPAC agreement attempted to change Donald Trump’s “exclusive” license to Trump Media’s product to a “non-exclusive” license.
Nelson Mullins lawyer John Haley, who advised the Trump Media SPAC deal, called the licensing agreement a “fundamental building block for the [Trump Media Group] initiative and platform,” according to an August 2021 email obtained by CNBC.
Haley said the move to a non-exclusive agreement “essentially ‘guts’” Trump’s commitments to the platform and leaves DWAC with an ‘”unbankable’ initiative that will not survive.”
Haley did not immediately return request for comment from CNBC.
Wilkerson’s daily log shows that, in response to the concerns, Moss and Litinsky met with Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Trump Organization attorneys. The pair later held a call with Trump himself that discussed Jason Miller.
The log records multiple delays — including one while Don Jr. hunted pheasants in England — before the final agreement with DWAC was brought to Mar-a-Lago on Oct. 20, 2021.
At Mar-a-Lago, the internal log says, “There was serious doubts that DJT would not sign, he called Jason Miller about Gettr, and grilled Andy about the deal.” Trump eventually signed the agreement, which still has yet to be consummated.
The agreement makes Trump’s posts available exclusively on Truth Social for eight hours before he can share them elsewhere, according to The Washington Post. Elon Musk, who recently acquired Twitter, has said he would reinstate Trump’s Twitter account. Trump, while lauding the acquisition, has said he will remain on Truth Social.
Representatives from Trump Media and DWAC did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.