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Trump pressured Truth Social executives to hand over their shares to Melania, co-founder claims

Former president set up social media platform after being banned by Facebook and Twitter after January 6

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Saturday 15 October 2022 23:53 BST
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(Getty Images)

Donald Trump pressured Truth Social executives to hand over their shares in his right-wing social media platform to former first lady Melania Trump, according to a whistleblower.

Will Wilkerson, one of the first employees of Trump Media & Technology Group, claims the former president called co-founder Andy Litinsky in a Florida coffee shop and made the demand of him.

The Washington Post says that Mr Trump made the request, which was worth millions of dollars, despite having already been given 90 per cent of the company’s shares.

Mr Wilkerson says that Mr Litinsky refused, telling the former president that “the gift would have meant a huge tax bill he couldn’t pay.

“Trump didn’t care. He said, ‘Do whatever you need to do.”

Mr Wilkerson filed a whistleblower complaint in August with the Securities and Exchange Commission, alleging securities violations involving the Trump Media and Digital World merger.

Mr Litinsky, who first met Mr Trump as a contestant on The Apprentice TV show in 2004, was removed five months after the alleged incident took place, with Mr Willkerson telling the newspaper that it was payback.

Mr Wilkerson and his lawyer shared emails with The Washington Post and the SEC in which Mr Litinsky reportedly told him that Mr Trump was “retaliating against me” and threatening to “’blow up the company’ if his demands are not met.”

The Post says that Mr Wilkerson was fired from his job as a senior vice president of operations at the company after he spoke to the newspaper.

Mr Trump was forced to set up his own social media network after he was banned from Facebook and Twitter in the wake of the January 6 insurrection by his supporters.

The planned merger between Truth Social’s parent Trump Media & Technology Group and blank-check company Digital World Acquisition Corp is currently under investigation by the SEC.

Mr Trump’s following on the platform has grown to more than 4m, but that is still well below the 86m followers he enjoyed on Twitter before his January 2021 ban.

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