Will Wilkerson, then an executive at former president Donald Trump’s start-up Trump Media & Technology Group, was at a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., coffee shop with company co-founder Andy Litinsky last October when Trump called Litinsky with a question: Would he give up some of his shares to Trump’s wife, Melania?
Trump Media, the owner of the fledgling social network Truth Social, had just been boosted by a huge merger agreement and a flood of investment that had made the stake worth millions of dollars. Trump had already been given 90 percent of the company’s shares in exchange for the use of his name and some minor involvement, leaving everyone else to split the rest.
Litinsky tried to brush it off, telling Trump “the gift would have meant a huge tax bill he couldn’t pay,” Wilkerson said in an interview. “Trump didn’t care. He said, ‘Do whatever you need to do.’ ”
Five months later, Litinsky, who first met Trump in 2004 as a contestant on the TV show “The Apprentice,” was abruptly removed from the company’s board. Wilkerson said he believes it was payback for his refusal to turn over a small fortune to the former president’s wife. Litinsky thought so, too, according to an email Wilkerson and his attorneys shared with The Washington Post and the Securities and Exchange Commission. In that email, Litinsky complained that Trump was “retaliating against me” by threatening to “ ‘blow up the company’ if his demands are not met.” [Continue reading…]