Trump’s Truth Social commitment may be weak


The co-founders of former president Donald Trump’s post-presidential start-up, Trump Media & Technology Group, had a name for June 11, 2021: “meltdown day.”

Andy Litinsky and Wes Moss, former contestants on Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” had a week earlier traveled with an 11-person entourage to Trump’s palatial golf club in Bedminster, N.J., to show off what they’d worked for months to build: a web of conservative-aimed business ventures, including the Twitter clone Truth Social, that heavily promoted and depended on Trump’s name and brand.

Trump, however, was already considering other ideas. On June 11, Trump met at Bedminster with another suitor: his former aide Jason Miller, who was launching a rival conservative social network, Gettr, and had offered Trump at least $5 million a year and a stake in the company to join.

A Trump defection would have triggered a disastrous meltdown of everything Litinsky and Moss had created. Trump Media lawyers scrambled to mount a counterattack, according to people familiar with the episode, which has not been previously reported.

Would Trump really “do a side deal?” the Trump Media co-founders wrote in a daily log that company whistleblower Will Wilkerson shared with government investigators and The Washington Post.

Trump ultimately stuck with Truth Social, helping the site attract a modest following. But the billionaire industrialist Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter could put Trump’s commitment to a new test, and some in his orbit wonder whether he’ll be able to stay loyal to a small site that is struggling to gain an audience and faces looming financial threats.

Trump has told his allies that he can’t leave Truth Social, because he’s propping it up, and he doesn’t want a site so closely associated with his brand to collapse, according to people familiar with his thinking who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters. A spokesman for Trump did not respond to a detailed request for comment for this story.

Musk has called Twitter’s ban of Trump, after the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, a mistake and pledged to reinstate Trump’s account, although when that might occur remains unclear. Trump, however, has said he would not return even if he were invited back, saying he wanted to focus his efforts on Truth Social.

“If I choose to run, I will only use Truth” to post his thoughts, Trump told Fox News on the day after Musk’s takeover of Twitter became official. “When I put out a Truth, it is all over the place.” The platform feels “like home,” he said, and he likes “the way it works.” In a Truth Social post, he added, “I LOVE TRUTH!”

But Trump’s 4 million followers on the platform are a small fraction of the 88 million he once had on Twitter, and his dozens of posts — called “truths” — there in recent weeks have received none of the broad engagement and traction he counted on during his presidency.

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