Donald Trump was reportedly in talks to acquire a 40 per cent stake in Parler in exchange for the then-president agreeing to post first on the social media app that has become the platform of choice for many of his supporters.
The negotiations, which reportedly took place while Trump was still president, were ended after White House lawyers objected, saying such an arrangement would violate ethics rules and potentially expose him to bribery charges.
News of the talks was first reported by BuzzFeed News, which obtained documents outlining the proposed deal.
According to BuzzFeed News, Trump’s company would have immediately received a 20 per cent stake while the remaining 20 per cent would have handed over in tranches over a two-year period.
Donald Trump (seen above in West Palm Beach, Florida, on January 20) was offered a 40 per cent stake in social media app Parler, according to BuzzFeed News
Parler bills itself as a social media platform that allows for ‘free expression.’
The then-president would have had to agree to make Parler his primary mode of communication with his supporters.
That meant Trump would have had to post all of his social media content – including posts, videos, and livestreaming – on Parler for at least four hours before posting on any other platform, according to the proposal.
Parler also asked Trump to link back to the site when posting to the other social media platforms or whenever he emailed his supporters.
Trump would also have been required to give Parler access to his email lists so that the site could promote its platform to his many supporters.
Brad Parscale, Trump’s former campaign manager, broached the idea of Trump partnering with Parler in 2019
According to BuzzFeed News, Trump’s representatives were in discussions with two Parler stakeholders – Fox News commentator Dan Bongino (left) and investor Jeffrey Wernick (right)
Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, was negotiating with Parler executives on behalf of the then-president when the idea was first raised last summer, according to the report.
Parler was represented in the talks by two of its prominent shareholders – Fox News commentator and Trump-backer Dan Bongino and Jeffrey Wernick, one of Parler’s earliest investors.
DailyMail.com has sought comment from Parler and Bongino.
‘The president was never part of the discussions,’ Trump’s former campaign manager, Brad Parscale, told BuzzFeed News.
‘The discussions were never that substantive.
‘And this was just one of many things the campaign was looking into to deal with the cancel culture of Silicon Valley.’
Wernick told BuzzFeed that Trump was never involved in any discussions about bringing him to Parler.
‘We have spoken to several people about potential stakes in the company for producing certain things,’ Wernick said.
He said nondisclosure agreements that were made between Parler and the Trump Organization precluded him from detailing specifics of what was discussed.
Legal experts quoted by BuzzFeed News said that the reported arrangement could have been illegal since Trump would essentially be getting a financial reward from a company that received exclusive content while he was a sitting president.
After Trump lost his re-election bid in November, the two sides revisited the idea but the talks broke down after Parler was deplatformed by large tech giants like Apple, Google, and Amazon who accused it of failing to moderate extremist content.
Parler hoped that Trump would help boost its traffic by getting him to post content on its platform before he did so on other social media apps.
Trump advisers thought that Parler offered an alternative to the mainstream apps like Facebook and Twitter, which has long been accused of anti-conservative bias.
While the outgoing president was negotiating with Parler, he was using the other platforms to mount a public relations campaign aimed at discrediting President Joe Biden’s election victory.
Earlier this week, Parler CEO John Matze said he was fired after a disagreement with one of the company’s chief financial backers over its content moderation policies
In the weeks that followed the November 3 election, Trump posted hundreds of messages alleging that he was victimized by widespread voter fraud that robbed him of victory.
Twitter and Facebook both placed disclaimers on his posts, stoking suspicions that the companies were seeking to censor the outgoing president.
On January 6, Trump held a rally near the White House on the same day that the Congress was meeting to ratify Biden’s election victory.
After Trump spoke, hundreds of the rallygoers stormed the Capitol, overrunning police and sending lawmakers frantically hiding in fear for their lives.
Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died in the riots.
Amid the chaos and ensuing tension after the riots, Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms banned Trump, saying that there was a risk he would use his accounts to foment more violence.
In an instant, Trump was deprived of his key mode of communication with his 88 million Twitter followers as well as the more than 35 million people who followed him on Facebook.
After Trump was banished from the mainstream apps, millions of users flocked to Parler, though it, too, faced trouble.
Parler, which is home to mostly far-right users who support Trump and in many cases cheered on the riots, was removed from Apple and Google app stores.
It was also taken off a web-hosting platform by Amazon, making it inaccessible to users.
The large tech companies accused Parler of failing to crack down on extremist content and calls for violence.
Talks between the Trump Organization reportedly broke down after Parler was removed from its cloud-based servers by Amazon Web Services
Parler disappeared from the web last month with an error message saying ‘we can’t connect to the server’ after Amazon pulled the plug
Parler’s then-CEO, John Matze, 27, accused the large tech giants of censoring his platform.
Parler last month sued Amazon for antitrust violations. It has also tried to come back online with the help of a Russian internet security company, DDos-Guard, but users have still been unable to post.
Earlier this week, Matze said he was fired from his post by the company’s board after a disagreement with Republican mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, one of the app’s key financial backers who owns a majority stake.
Mercer has reportedly put in place a team to run the site in Matze’s absence – including British lawyer Matthew Richardson and former tea party activist Mark Meckler.
Matze said on Wednesday that he and Mercer disagreed over whether Parler should do more to moderate extremist content on its platform.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Matze wanted to bolster the site’s content moderation mechanism so that it could be allowed to return to the app stores managed by Google and Apple.
Matze said that the company board did not agree with his suggestion to ban certain groups that were affiliated with domestic terrorists.
Matze’s claim was disputed by Amy Peikoff, Parler’s chief policy officer, who called his statements ‘misleading.’
‘The owners and managers of the company worked tirelessly to build a resilient, non-partisan platform dedicated to freedom of expression, civil discourse, and user privacy,’ she said in the statement.
The idea of Trump becoming a part owner of Parler was first raised by former Parscale.
Trump was removed from social media apps Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and others in the wake of the January 6 riot at the United States Capitol in which five people died
Trump’s banishment from Twitter meant that he no longer could communicate with his 88 million followers on the platform
Trump was also banned by Facebook, where the former president had more than 35 million followers
Parscale broached the idea with Trump during a meeting last year at the White House, according to BuzzFeed News.
A Trump-Parler partnership intrigued Parscale, who first raised the idea of the then-president creating an account on the controversial platform.
In the days after Trump was being encouraged by some of his aides to set up accounts on Parler and another social media platform with fewer restrictions on hate content, Gab.
But he ultimately decided against it after his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and another adviser, Dan Scavino, discouraged it, Bloomberg News reported.
Matze said that at last count Parler has some 15 million users on its site, including the former president’s two eldest sons, Eric and Don Jr, as well as many former White House staffers who served in the Trump administration.