Devin Nunes, former Republican congressman from California and current CEO of Truth Social – Donald Trump’s social media site – said that the former president had spoken with Elon Musk about purchasing Twitter and had “encouraged” him to buy the company shortly before the Tesla CEO announced he was going to do so.
Nunes, an avowed Trump supporter and disgraced member of Congress, was being interviewed this week on Fox Business when he alleged that Trump had given that advice to Musk earlier this year.
“President Trump basically, before Elon Musk bought it, actually said to go and buy it,” Nunes said of Musk’s purchase of Twitter.
Nunes further claimed that Musk, the world’s richest man (who has a history of censoring his own employees), is someone who is “[taking] on tech tyrants” and will expand supposed speech rights on the platform — a goal that Trump supports.
“Donald Trump wanted to make sure the American people got their voice back, and the internet was open, and that is what we are doing,” Nunes said. “People like Elon Musk doing what he’s doing. We are definitely in favor of it.”
Nunes suggested he wasn’t worried about Twitter upstaging Trump’s site. Truth Social, he claimed, is “very much different than Twitter, and that’s why we encouraged Elon Musk to buy it.”
In reality, critics have lambasted Truth Social as being almost a carbon copy of Twitter.
After reports Nunes’s claims broke, Musk denied having any communications with Trump regarding his pending purchase of Twitter. “This is false,” Musk said in a tweet on Friday, adding that he hasn’t spoken with Trump “directly or indirectly” about his buying the site.
Trump was banned from Twitter over a year ago after a mob of his loyalists attacked the U.S. Capitol building and he continued to make incendiary posts calling for the 2020 presidential election to be overturned. The former president described the ban (and the booting of other users encouraging violence or violating the site’s terms of service) as going against his free speech rights, even though the site is a private company and can regulate how users interact with one another.
The First Amendment states that a person’s speech rights cannot be restricted by the federal government. It does not prevent private companies from regulating speech in their own spaces.
Many have speculated that Trump will return to Twitter after Musk’s $43 billion purchase of the site becomes official. Trump himself has claimed he won’t be coming back to the site, but because of the failure of Truth Social and the temptation to claim victory over the social media platform he once used daily, many of the former president’s own advisers are themselves skeptical of his claim that he won’t go back to tweeting.
Trump “loved his Twitter. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise,” a Trump adviser said last month.
Truth Social has been plagued with many problems — “bugs” have made it difficult at times to navigate the site, and there are huge sign-up delays to even use the platform. The site isn’t available on desktop, and Android users also cannot yet access Truth Social.
The site also appears to go against the ethos that Trump purports it follows, as users have reported being banned after creating parody accounts that poke fun at Nunes. Indeed, Truth Social’s own terms of service says users may be kicked off the site “for any reason or for no reason.”