Ross and Trump in 2010. Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis

Billionaire New York real estate developer Stephen Ross privately expressed qualms about going ahead with his Hamptons fundraiser for President Trump today.

The state of play: Liberal customers had threatened to boycott Equinox and SoulCycle, the high-end fitness brands owned by a parent company that Ross chairs. Ross, who also owns the NFL's Miami Dolphins, "freaked out" at the backlash, a source said, adding that Trump associates persuaded him to go ahead with the event at his Southampton mansion.

  • "Stay strong, it's not going to be that bad. Not that many people are going to boycott the gym," was another source's paraphrasing of what Trump's associates conveyed to Ross.

Ross describes himself as a "champion of racial equality, inclusion, diversity, public education and environmental sustainability."

  • The WashPost obtained an invitation to today's event, and reported: "Tickets are priced at $100,000 for a photo opportunity and lunch, and $250,000 for the package that includes the roundtable discussion."

The big picture: Trump is so toxic to blue-state-favorite brands that their CEOs often try to stiff-arm him.

  • After his response to the Charlottesville white supremacist violence, a number of CEOs quit two White House business advisory councils. Trump then disbanded the councils before they could fully dissolve.
  • On Wednesday, Equinox and SoulCycle issued a statement saying they do not support the Trump fundraiser.

Ross responded to the criticism in a statement Wednesday, saying he has always been "an active participant in the democratic process," per CNBC:

  • "I have known Donald Trump for 40 years, and while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others and I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions.”

Go deeper: SoulCycle faces backlash over investor plans to fundraise for Trump

Go deeper

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Protesters and riot police clash in Minsk, Belarus, on Sunday during a demonstration against President Alexander Lukashenko's claim of a landslide victory. Photo: Misha Friedman/Getty Images)

Riot police clashed with protesters in Belarus overnight after a government exit poll predicted Sunday President Aleksander Lukashenko, an authoritarian who has ruled the Eastern European country since 1994, had overwhelmingly defeated a pro-democracy opposition candidate.

Why it matters: It's a precarious moment for the former Soviet republic, where decades of repression and a complete disregard for the coronavirus pandemic threaten to topple "Europe's last dictator." Rights groups said at least one protester was killed and dozens more wounded in a "police crackdown," per AP.

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

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Twitter jumps into the fray for TikTok

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Twitter is the latest to join the cast of the ongoing spectacle that is TikTok’s battle to stay open for business in the U.S., per a new report from the Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: The saga to keep TikTok available to U.S. users is getting more complicated, with the company already in a President Trump-imposed time crunch and juggling a number of options.