Former president Donald Trump's new social media venture appears designed to make him money without taking much risk — by effectively selling his name to someone so they can slap it on a product while he avoids responsibility, according to a new report from the Washington Post.
"Trump began his career in the high-risk, high-reward business of buying and selling New York real estate. But, after he achieved TV fame on 'The Apprentice,' he entered another line of business with far less risk: selling his name to people who wanted to slap it on their products," the Post's David Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell report. "In the heyday of that merchandising business, Trump was paid to lend his name to apartment buildings, eyeglasses, cologne, mattresses, vodka, steaks, coffee, chandeliers, suits — even a brand of urine test. Many of these products failed, but that was not Trump's problem."
The story notes that the former president's own company, the Trump Organization, is facing "unprecedented challenges" in the form of mounting losses, the indictment of chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, and investigations into its financial practices in at least three states. But Trump's social media venture unveiled Wednesday, through the publicly traded Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), could allow him to "enter the tech sector without much risk" and generate revenue "with little work or overhead."
Michael D'Antonio, who has written biographies of Trump, told the Post: "Avoiding being responsible, in any ultimate sense, is a constant in his strategy. If you think of him always looking for ways to try businesses without being truly responsible — combined with his sense that he can do anything — then this is kind of natural."
Gwenda Blair, who wrote a biography of Trump, his father and his grandfather, added: "There's nothing surprising. The only surprising thing would be if he actually put his own money into it. He's always an other-people's-money people guy."
The story notes that this week's launch of TMTG's social media platform, called Truth Social, was "less than impressive." The platform was defaced by pranksters, with a video of a pig defecating supposedly posted by "donaldjtrump."
And there are other potential signs of problems: The CEO of TMTG is listed as Patrick Orlando, whose office address corresponds to a WeWork co-working space in Miami, and the CFO is Luis Orleans-Braganza, who claims to be a member of the defunct Brazilian royal family.
"Trump has previously run one publicly traded company, which included many of his Atlantic City casinos and was called Trump Entertainment Resorts," the Post notes. "The company operated for roughly two decades, starting in 1995. For Trump's investors, it was a disaster: The company lost more than $1 billion, its stock price nosedived, and it filed for bankruptcy three times, in 2004, 2009 and 2014. ... But Trump himself did well: The struggling company paid him more than $44 million in salary, bonuses and other compensation."