GOP donors and lawmakers reportedly discussed how to tackle big tech during an RNC event at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort

trump grifting
The event took place at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

  • Key GOP players discussed the future of big tech and social media at the RNC donors’ summit, CNBC reported.
  • Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson told the publication he spoke to attendees about bias in social media.
  • Republicans and social media sites are at loggerheads over blockings and content moderation.
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Key Republican figures spent some of the weekend mulling plans for the future of big tech at former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, according to a report by CNBC.

The gathering last weekend saw Republican donors, lawmakers, and strategists discuss their plans for tackling big tech, social media, and corporate America last weekend, the publication reported.

Attendees discussed a “strategy on social media and big tech,” Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union and attendee at the retreat, told the publication.

CNBC reported that Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson said he had taken part in conversations about “concern over bias and growing power of media and social media.”

The two groups have been at loggerheads over what Republicans see as the restriction of free speech and the social media platforms see as the removal of hate speech and misinformation from their sites.

After the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, social media giants rushed to crack down on Trump and his supporters, with Facebook and Twitter both suspending Trump’s accounts.

Twitter also purged 70,000 accounts associated with QAnon, blocked the accounts of Trump allies including Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell, and suspended the accounts of both Mike Lindell and his company MyPillow after he used them to spread voter-fraud conspiracy theories.

Many Trump supporters flocked to right-wing network Parler instead, but it was temporarily booted offlinee after its web host Amazon Web Services cut ties.

But Republicans are fighting back against the social media crackdown. Both Trump and Lindell are planning on launching their own platforms, and major Republican donor Roy Bailey told CNBC that he is interested in investing in a site where conservatives wouldn’t have to “worry about censorship.”

The discussions happened during the Republican National Committee’s donor summit, which was held largely at a Four Seasons hotel in Palm Beach, Florida.

The invite-only event lets Republican candidates mingle the party’s donors as they discuss the GOP’s strategy and direction.

The group headed to Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night for a speech from Trump, where he reportedly insulted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and asked people to call the COVID-19 vaccine “Trumpcine.”

Schlapp told the publication that some attendees at the Mar-a-Lago event said they were “being cancelled” by insurance companies and banks and thought they weren’t being denied services because banks thought their businesses were too conservative.

He told CNBC that most of the conversations at Mar-a-Lago were “informal” and that the plans were still developing.

At other points during the RNC retreat, Florida Senator Marco Rubio criticized big tech companies over how they treat their staff and seemed to encourage GOP leaders to attract more support from union workers in the 2022 midterm elections, people briefed on the matter told CNBC.

In mid-March, Rubio became the first GOP senator to publicly endorse efforts by Amazon workers to form a union.

He wrote for USA Today that the tech giant had “waged a war against working-class values.”

Support for the unionization effort, which ultimately was defeated, came largely from Democrat lawmakers including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

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An Ohio GOP Senate candidate reportedly crashed an RNC donor retreat and was escorted out

Josh Mandel
Ohio GOP Senate candidate Josh Mandel.

  • Josh Mandel, running for a vacant Ohio Senate seat, got escorted out of a donor retreat over the weekend.
  • The retreat was hosted by the Republican National Committee and offered candidates coveted opportunities to mingle with donors.
  • There were also opportunities to schmooze with GOP leaders like former President Donald Trump.
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Security removed Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel from a donor retreat hosted by the Republican National Committee, Axios reported.

The retreat, which took place over the weekend in a Palm Beach, Florida, hotel, welcomed guests on an invitation-only basis. Mandel did not have an invitation and crashed the event, according to Axios.

While he was booted from the event, his main opponent, Jane Timken, got to stay and was invited “because she is a major donor,” an unnamed source told Axios.

The event, which began on Friday, provides a prime chance for Republican candidates to mingle with some of the party’s biggest donors.

Axios also points out that event attendees got access to major GOP figures, including former President Donald Trump. On Saturday night, the group headed to Mar-a-Lago, where Trump currently lives. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was also slated to speak to the group, Axios reported. DeSantis is believed to be considering a 2024 run at the presidency.

By getting booted from the retreat, Mandel loses not only a chance to capitalize on key donor power, but also time to schmooze with the former president and GOP mainstays. It also puts Timken in the spotlight in a contested race for a vacant Senate seat.

Both Mandel and Timken have been fighting for Trump’s endorsement, according to Axios. His endorsement could go a long way in their Senate race to replace Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who announced his retirement earlier this year.

The RNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

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RNC moves part of spring retreat to Mar-a-Lago following Trump’s cease-and-desist letter to the organization

GettyImages trump mar a lago
President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago.

  • The RNC will hold part of its spring retreat at Mar-a-Lago, the Washington Post reports.
  • Trump has clashed with some GOP leaders and committees in recent weeks.
  • He sent a cease-and-desist letter to the RNC warning them not to use his likeness without approval.
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The Republican National Committee is now holding part of its spring retreat at Mar-a-Lago after former President Donald Trump sent the organization a cease-and-desist letter, the Washington Post reported on Monday.

Trump regularly held fundraisers and invited prominent politicians to visit and golf at Mar-a-Lago, his club and now post-presidential residence in Palm Beach, Florida.

The Post reported that the RNC will pay Trump a fee for the usage of the club for part of its retreat for big donors in early April, with Trump set to address the crowd at a Saturday night dinner.

The move comes amid tensions between Trump and some of the top Republicans in the party establishment as the 2022 midterm elections near.

The Post reported, citing a source familiar with the matter, that holding part of the GOP’s retreat at Trump’s club and paying him for Mar-a-Lago’s usage could help the RNC get firmly in Trump’s good graces.

While Trump has largely laid low since leaving office, he is gearing up to play a role in the midterms, including vowing electoral revenge on congressional Republicans who voted to impeach him for inciting the January 6 insurrection.

“Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First,” Trump said in a February 16 statement.

And recently, Trump took steps to restrict how campaign committees can fundraise off of his name after reported rifts between him and leaders like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Politico reported that Trump sent cease-and-desist notices to several campaign committees, including the RNC, warning the organizations against using Trump’s name and likeness for fundraising appeals without approval.

The RNC is ignoring the warnings so far, and continuing to send out fundraising emails explicitly using Trump’s name.

On Monday, Politico reported that the RNC’s chief counsel sent a letter to Trump’s lawyers pushing back on the cease-and-desist notice, arguing that the organization “has every right to refer to public figures as it engages in core, First Amendment-protected political speech” and claiming that Trump continued to approve of the committee’s use of his name in a recent conversation with RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.

In recent weeks, Trump has also publicly castigated top members of the GOP, including McConnell, in statements issued through his Save America PAC.

On February 16, for example, Trump blamed McConnell for Republicans’ loss of the dual January 5 Senate runoffs in Georgia and called him a “dour, sullen unsmiling political hack.”

And in a lengthy March 4 statement, Trump blasted longtime GOP political strategist and Fox News analyst Karl Rove as “a RINO of the highest order” and a “pompous fool with bad advice.”

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Trump sent cease-and-desist letters to stop the RNC, NRCC, and NRSC from using his name: report

trump plane
Former President Donald Trump.

Attorneys representing former President Donald Trump on Friday issued cease-and-desist letters to the Republican National Committee (RNC), National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), and National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) for “using his name and likeness on fundraising emails and merchandise,” according to a Politico report.

The three fundraising committees are the largest and most prominent fundraising vehicles for GOP members of Congress and emerging candidates that have been endorsed by the party apparatus.

Trump is reportedly upset that his name is being used without his permission by organizations that are backing Republicans who supported his impeachment, according to Politico.

The former president, who has long made licensing agreements for his many business ventures over the decades, was also selective about how his name was used for fundraising while in office, according to the report.

Just yesterday, the RNC sent out emails requesting that supporters make donations for a card to “thank” Trump.

“President Trump will ALWAYS stand up for the American People, and I just thought of the perfect way for you to show that you support him!” the email stated. “As one of President Trump’s MOST LOYAL supporters, I think that YOU, deserve the great honor of adding your name to the Official Trump ‘Thank You’ Card.”

Another email was sent later in the day reminding supporters of a deadline for signing their names on the card.

According to Politico, GOP insiders said it was “impossible not to use Trump’s name,” as he boasts immense popularity with the party’s base and with the low-propensity voters that fueled unexpected Republican wins in many Congressional races across the country in 2020.

The insiders reportedly said that if Trump wants to see Republicans win back control of Congress in the 2022 midterm elections, then he should not be so restrictive with his name.

However, an advisor to Trump disagrees with such a sentiment.

“President Trump remains committed to the Republican Party and electing America First conservatives, but that doesn’t give anyone – friend or foe – permission to use his likeness without explicit approval,” the advisor told Politico.

After a report from The Wall Street Journal indicated that Trump was considering forming his own political party, Trump refuted the idea during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) earlier this week.

“We have the Republican Party,” he said. “It’s going to unite and be stronger than ever before. I am not starting a new party.”

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The feds offer $100,000 reward for info about who left pipe bombs near the DNC and RNC the night before the riots

Pipe bomb suspect
The FBI released an image of a suspect in their investigation into explosive devices found near the RNC and DNC on January 6.

  • The pipe bombs that were found near the RNC and DNC on January 6 were placed there the night before, the FBI says. 
  • They’re offering a $100,000 reward for info that leads them to the suspect. 
  • Investigators told CNN they believe the bombs were placed as a distraction to decrease law enforcement at the Capitol, so rioters could storm in. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations has raised the reward to $100,000 for information that leads them to person or people responsible for placing pipe bombs close to the Republican and Democratic party offices

On Friday, the agency said they believe an individual planted the bombs between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. local time on January 5, the night before the Capitol riots. 

The individual they said wore Nike Air Max Speed Turf shoes in yellow, black, and gray, as well as a grey hoodie and a face mask. 

The Washington Post reported that agents have interviewed over 1,000 residents and business owners in the areas surrounding where the bombs were found. 

Security videos obtained by The Post show the suspect in an alley, known as Rumsey Court near the RNC between 8:13 p.m. and 8:17 p.m. on January 5.

CNN reported that the devices which were both found at around 1 p.m. local time on January 6 were eight inches long and made of galvanized steel. They were rigged with an egg timer and filled with explosive powder. 

Around that same time, supporters of then-President Donald Trump breached the US Capitol and clashed with law enforcement, halting a joint session of Congress as lawmakers were set to certify President Joe Biden’s election victory. The attack left five people dead.

Read more: Inside Democrats’ plans to make sure there’s no Trump 2.0

Investigators are looking into the possibility that the devices, which were placed out in the open were meant to be a distraction to get law enforcement resources away from the Capitol, CNN reported. 

ABC News reported that FBI agents, Capitol police, and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives were called to the RNC office at around 12:45 p.m. on January 6. There was a call that a similar bomb was found at the DNC about 30 minutes later. 

The devices did not explode, and one official told CNN that it could be because the timers were set incorrectly or batteries were not connected properly. 

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A pipe bomb was reportedly found at RNC headquarters and destroyed by authorities, and a suspicious package arrived at DNC headquarters

noose washington dc capitol pro trump protest election
A noose is seen while supporters of President Donald Trump gather on the West side of the Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021.

  • Amid DC rioting on Wednesday, a pipe bomb was found at the Republican National Committee (RNC) headquarters and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters were evacuated over a suspicious package, The New York Times reported.
  • The RNC and DNC are blocks away from the US Capitol, where pro-Trump rioters attempted a coup. 
  • Another pipe bomb was found and safely detonated in the Capitol complex, CNN reported. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A pipe bomb was found at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee (RNC) in Washington, DC, as pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday, The New York Times reported. Also on Wednesday afternoon, a suspicious package was found at the nearby headquarters of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), The Times said. 

The explosive device at the RNC was destroyed by a bomb squad, according to The Times, citing an RNC official. A Democrat told The Times anonymously that the contents of the package had not yet been identified. 

Authorities also found a pickup truck parked outside the RNC headquarters that reportedly held rifles, ammunition, and shotguns, The Washington Post reported, citing two sources familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Agents were investigating whether the truck was linked to the pipe bombs, the sources said, according to The Post. 

The RNC and DNC are both only blocks away from the Capitol. 

CNN anchor Jim Sciutto reported that another suspected pipe bomb was found within the Capitol complex, citing an unnamed federal law enforcement official. 

Representatives for the RNC and DNC’s press offices did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Capitol protest
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol Rotunda on January 6, 2021.

At the same time, rioters were attempting a coup, as Trump supporters entered congressional chambers in the Capitol. Vice President Mike Pence, whom Trump had angrily tweeted about earlier on Wednesday, and members of Congress were evacuated from the building as they had been meeting to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election win.

As members of Congress urged the mobs to leave the Capitol, many pleaded with Trump to tell his supporters to leave. The FBI and National Guard have been deployed to Washington, and Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a citywide curfew beginning at 6 pm on Wednesday. 

Update: This story has been updated to note The Washington Post’s reporting regarding a truck parked outside the RNC’s headquarters.

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