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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

People close to Trump and a politically connected private company have, for months, been laying out the broad outlines of the plan to create a national wholesale 5G network in op-eds and tweets — which the Trump campaign was then forced to walk back, following widespread confusion within the administration.

The big picture: Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale said last June that it would be an "open wholesale market with a privatized company that isn't a carrier," in his "personal opinion." Last month, he tweeted again about the need for a "wholesale" network.

  • Declan Ganley, the CEO of Rivada Networks, has been pushing for the same concept.
  • “Decisive action building a public-private partnership in the near term demands that we make shared spectrum available for a carrier-neutral, wholesale-only, nationwide 5G network to be built in the next two to three years across the entire country,” wrote Newt Gingrich in a Newsweek op-ed last month.

Rivada could stand to benefit financially from the new network, but Parscale — through a Trump campaign spokesman — and Gingrich, have both said they have no financial stake in the idea.

  • "I refuse to accept any money on 5G because I believe it is the biggest national security challenge we face," Gingrich told Axios in a text message. "We are currently losing. A Huawei-dominated world communication system will be an enormous defeat and a deadly threat to our survival."

In a phone conversation with Axios, Rivada spokesperson Brian Carney said that the company had spoken with players in Washington about its idea — but said he was not aware of conversations that had taken place with Parscale or the Trump campaign on the subject.

  • "There's no financial relationship between us and Newt. Full stop. Period," Carney said. "We have spoken to him about this stuff, because he came to think that we had a pretty good idea for how to deal with this thing."
  • Ganley himself weighed in, saying on Twitter that "as best as I can tell there’s no distance between The White House & the Campaign because the whole 'Nationalisation' angle was & more than ever remains a Red Herring."

Here's how the public conversation evolved:

  • January 2018: Axios reported that a senior National Security Council official circulated a proposal to effectively nationalize the fifth-generation of wireless technology, sparking condemnation from across government and industry.
  • February 2018: Rivada Networks Ganley proposed a shared 5G wireless network in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
  • June 2018: Parscale tweeted that a "great 5G network, in my personal opinion, consists of an open wholesale market with a privatized company that isn't a carrier. Government doesn’t own or operate it but does provide the spectrum. An open bidding process for bandwidth! No more dead spots!"
  • Feb. 19 and 22: Gingrich published op-eds supportive of a national wholesale 5G network.
  • Feb. 21: President Trump tweeted that he wants "5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible."
  • Feb. 21: Parscale tweeted that a "5G wholesale market from underutilized spectrum would drive down prices and improve rural availability."
  • March 1: Kayleigh McEnany, the national press secretary for the president's campaign, told Politico that a "5G wholesale market would drive down costs and provide access to millions of Americans who are currently underserved."

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court rejects Trump's attempt to shield documents from Jan. 6 committee

Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday night a bid by former President Trump to block the release of documents and records from his administration to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Why it matters: Trump asked the Supreme Court to step in and block the release of the documents last month after a panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously denied his attempt to prevent the committee from obtaining the materials.

Senate Republicans block voting rights bill

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate floor on Jan. 18. Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Republicans blocked Democrats' voting rights legislation from coming to a final vote on Wednesday in what was largely viewed as a doomed effort from the start.

Why it matters: The failed vote underscores the Democratic Party's current uphill battle to pass sweeping legislation in a 50-50 Senate.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden says Russia likely to invade Ukraine

President Biden addressed the brewing conflict between Russia and Ukraine during a press briefing Wednesday, saying of Russian President Vladimir Putin, "my guess is he will move in."

Why it matters: U.S. officials have issued a series of warnings about Russia's threatening military buildup on the border with Ukraine, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying in Kyiv earlier Wednesday that Russia could invade "on very short notice."