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Trump asked Elon Musk if he wanted to buy Truth Social

Former president Donald Trump asked Elon Musk last summer whether the billionaire industrialist would be interested in buying Trump’s social network Truth Social, according to two people with knowledge of the conversation.

The overture to Musk, whose business empire includes SpaceX, Tesla and the social networking site X, did not lead to a deal. But the conversation, which has not been previously reported, shows the two men have communicated more than was known. The two have had other conversations, too, Trump advisers say, about politics and business.

Among their conversations was a meeting earlier this month in Palm Beach, Fla., where Trump met with Musk and a few high-powered Republican donors, the people said. The subject of that discussion is not clear but, after it was first reported by the New York Times, which noted that the meeting happened while Trump was looking for campaign contributions, the billionaire wrote on X that he is “not donating money to either candidate for US President.”

Musk, the world’s second-richest man, has increasingly voiced support for conservative ideology on X, including echoing Trump’s unverified claims that the Biden administration is, as Musk wrote last week, “importing voters and creating a national security threat from unvetted illegal immigrants.”

At the time of last summer’s discussion, Trump’s media company, which owns Truth Social, was trapped in a long-delayed merger process. Musk bought X, then known as Twitter, for $44 billion in 2022.

When The Washington Post asked Musk about the Truth Social call and his other talks with Trump, Musk responded only that he had “never been to Mar-a-Lago,” Trump’s estate in Palm Beach.

Trump Media & Technology Group did not address any of the facts reported in this story when invited to do so by The Post. In an emailed statement, Trump Media spokeswoman Shannon Devine said only, “We heard Trump and Musk were actually discussing buying the Washington Post but they decided it had no value.”

A spokesman for Trump’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

One of the reasons Trump has not posted on X is that he wants to create and keep financial value for his Truth Social site, which he assiduously tracks, according to people close to him.

He has relentlessly tried to promote it, telling his advisers that he wants to break news on the platform partially to bring in more users. “It’s hot,” he says, often polling visitors to Mar-a-Lago about whether they have an account.

He has tweeted once since leaving the Oval Office — only his dour mug shot last year from an Atlanta jail, where he was booked on charges of trying to overturn the 2020 election results in the state.

At the time of the call last summer, Trump Media, which owns Truth Social, faced a dim financial outlook. In April, Trump had said in a financial disclosure filing for his presidential candidacy that his 90 percent stake in the company was worth between $5 million and $25 million and that his income from it had been less than $200.

Three months later, the company’s proposed merger partner, Digital World Acquisition Corp., announced that it had offered to pay an $18 million settlement if the merger were completed to settle charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had misled investors, further casting doubt over the deal at the time.

But in the past month, the SEC greenlit Digital World’s merger registration, setting the stage for Trump Media to become a public company potentially worth billions of dollars. That change could offer Trump a financial lifeline as he faces hundreds of millions of dollars in legal penalties. Shareholders are expected to officially approve the merger during a vote later this month, but a lockup provision of the deal would require Trump to wait six months before selling any shares.

Musk once belittled Truth Social, posting in 2022 that Trump’s site had a “terrible name” and that it was “time for Trump to hang up his hat & sail into the sunset.”

Trump responded on Truth Social by posting a photo of the two men in the Oval Office alongside a caption: When Musk visited “the White House asking me for help on all of his many subsidized projects … I could have said ‘drop to your knees and beg,’ and he would have done it,” he wrote.

Musk, he added, “should focus on getting himself out of the Twitter mess,” saying the site was “perhaps worthless.”

Musk, however, publicly condemned Twitter’s banning of Trump’s account after the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. The site, under Musk, reactivated Trump’s account in late 2022.

Within the past year, as Musk’s promotion of conspiracy theories and criticism of liberal causes as a “woke mind virus” have driven away users and advertisers, Musk has voiced enthusiasm about Trump’s ability to win attention on social media. In August, he said on X: “People are clearly interested in hearing from Trump. One may not agree with the man, but he is never boring!”

He posted last week that “Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) is a very real disease.”

Trump has continued to insist to advisers and people close to him that Musk should buy Truth Social. If he chose to sell the platform, it could provide him a much needed cash infusion, though the merger process and lockup period could complicate the deal.

Trump met with Musk after recent judgments against the former president in two civil cases that may cost him well over $500 million.

On Friday, Trump posted a $91 million bond to stay a judgment against him in a defamation suit brought by the writer E. Jean Carroll, which he is appealing. In a fraud case brought by the New York attorney general, Trump will need to pay penalties of more than $450 million or post a bond of the same amount later this month to stay the judgment in that case during appeal.

Trump has not said where he plans to get the money. Few Wall Street banks have lent him substantial sums since his Trump-branded Atlantic City casinos began failing in the 1990s, and borrowing against his properties may be difficult and expensive to do in short order, experts said. He lists 22 assets — most of them real estate — as valued at “over $50 million” each, according to a filing he made with the government in August, and dozens of other less valuable properties. But he has made no public moves to sell his best real estate.

Trump’s lawyers have made a number of filings in recent days aimed at buying the former president more time to secure the needed funds or at least to reduce the amount he must provide.

They argued in court that even the world’s wealthiest people cannot come up with half a billion dollars so quickly.

“No one, including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Donald Trump, has five hundred million laying around,” Trump attorney Christopher Kise argued before an appeals court judge last week. (Bezos, the founder of Amazon, owns The Post.)

Faiz Siddiqui contributed to this report.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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