Who is funding Gettr? Trump's new app backed by fugitive Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui
'Cancel free' social network founded by Jason Miller has strong ties to China, promoted by fugitive billionaire who promoted app on his TV channel
In a bid to move away from the 'censorship' of Twitter and Facebook, conservatives are on the hunt for a new social media platform. It appears as if they have one with Gettr, an app launched on July 1 by Donald Trump adviser Jason Miller. However, this isn't your usual made-in-America network, investigations reveal that the app has strong ties to China, and is bankrolled by the fugitive billionaire Guo Wengui.
After being booted off Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and almost every other mainstream social network, Donald Trump and the GOP have been on the warpath. Initially, the former President bragged about starting his own app, but that has so far not happened. That allowed a lot of other alternatives like Parler to be born. The US-based service was heavily favored before being booted off Amazon's servers. Trump himself has migrated to YouTube competitor Rumble, a Canadian video service.
Now, Gettr has joined the fray of apps vying for conservatives' attention. If you were hoping the app was a champion of American values though, don't get too excited just yet. An investigation by The Daily Beast found that the app wasn't even the idea of Miller, but rather Wengui, who also helped fund the app.
Who funded Gettr?
According to the Beast, Wengui or Miles Kwok helped launch the app through funding from his family foundation. So far, he's the only named funder. Miller refused to name the others but only said Gettr was funded by a "consortium of international investors". The role of Wengui, while unclear, does indicate the extent to which American companies are reliant on foreign funding.
Often dubbed a dissident by China, Wengui fled China in 2015 after close friends and connections were arrested under a corruption crackdown by Xi Jinping. A former civil servant. Wengui made a name for himself in real estate and was once one of the richest men in China. But once it became clear he was on Jinping's hit list, he fled to the US and immediately embroiled himself with the Republican Party.
Wengui's media company GTV Media Group raised more than $300 million in 2020, prompting an investigation by the FBI. However, reports show that he has greatly benefitted from his connections with the GOP. Steve Bannon is reported to have played a crucial role in getting those funds, allowing GTV to launch. In 2017, China attempted to extradite Wengui on charges of bribing, kidnapping, money laundering, fraud, and rape. However, Trump reportedly blocked that extradition after he learned Wengui was a member of his Mar-a-Lago club.
Bannon and Wengui have been closely associated for years. In fact, when Bannon was arrested in August 2020, he was picked up from a yacht owned by Wengui. in February 2020, ProPublica revealed that Bannon used Wengui's private jet to fly to GOP candidates' rallies. The trips weren't disclosed to the FEC, leading ProPublica to question if they violated campaign finance laws. In recent years, Bannon has frequently appeared on GTV, and Wengui on Bannon's podcast. In 2019, Axios revealed Wengui paid Bannon around $1 million for "strategic consulting services."
Wengui's role unclear
It's unclear what Wengui's role actually is in Gettr. Miller said that the funding wasn't from Wengui directly, but his "family foundation". Miller also confirmed to the Beast that Wengui won't have a seat on the board or any other formal role. However, as the Beast investigated, it found that Wengui might have a bigger role than Miller let on.
A June video on GTC claimed Gettr was "the concentration of Miles’s whole life work." The video claimed Wnegui also came up with the idea for Gettr's logo. "This logo of Gettr is his idea, representing that Gettr will ignite the hope of mankind and the spirit of the Olympic games," the host said. Other sites linked to Wengui have also reportedly promoted Gettr for weeks now even though Miller unveiled the app only on July 1.
Two weeks ago, an ad for Gettr was uploaded (and is still up) on the GTV website. It also features Wengui prominently, if there was any doubt about his involvement. Bill Marczak and John Scott-Railton, senior researchers at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab also found "numerous connections" between Gettr and other Wengui-related online platforms by analyzing Gettr's code.
Tim Murtaugh, a senior official on Trump’s reelection campaign has also been roped into work on Gettr's "media affairs side". Miller is also working to bring Trump and Rudy Guiliani to the platform, making it the new home for MAGA. It's unclear as of now if Gettr can be that, but with Wengui's prominent role in conservative circles, it could be possible.