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Ex-Parler CEO John Matze tells "Axios on HBO" that the social media company's negotiations last summer to bring President Trump onto the Twitter rival were a lose-lose proposition and never got beyond unsigned, non-binding term sheets.

What Matze says: "I didn't like the idea of working with Trump, because he might have bullied people inside the company to do what he wanted. But I was worried that if we didn't sign the deal, he might have been vengeful and told his followers to leave Parler."

Backstory: BuzzFeed News reported Friday that Matze and two Parler advisers met at Mar-a-Lago last June to discuss a deal whereby the Trump organization would receive a 40% stake in Parler in exchange for Trump making Parler his exclusive social media home.

  • Trump himself was not in attendance, but his campaign chief and campaign lawyer were there.

Matze did not mention the Mar-a-Lago meeting when interviewed Thursday by "Axios on HBO," for an episode airing Sunday. Instead, he said neither he nor other Parler executives had met with Trump or "anyone in the White House" about the former president creating a Parler account.

  • The Buzzfeed story does not contradict that statement, since it references negotiations with Trump "campaign" officials.

During a subsequent phone interview, Matze told Axios the Mar-a-Lago meeting was set up by Jeffrey Wernick, an early Parler investor and its eventual chief operating officer. He says it lasted a few hours and that he didn't sleep over at the private club in Florida where Trump now lives.

  • Matze adds he doesn't know if the first offer was made by Wernick or by Trump campaign officials.

Go deeper

17 mins ago - World

At least 2 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least two people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Monday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told Axios over the phone that two people had been confirmed to have died in the disaster.

Airlines call for Biden admin's "immediate intervention" in 5G deployment

Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The CEOs of leading U.S. air cargo and passenger carriers on Monday warned the Biden administration there could be "catastrophic disruption" after AT&T and Verizon deploy a new 5G service this week.

Driving the news: They said in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and other top federal officials ahead of the C-Band 5G service's deployment Wednesday that "the nation's commerce will grind to a halt" and "could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas."

Updated 4 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.