Devin Nunes: Building a Beachhead Against Big Tech Tyranny
“We’re trying to give everyone their voice back and open this Internet back up. And that’s why I left Congress—because it really was the most important issue at the highest level that has to be solved, for good governance to come back to this country.”
Many Americans were surprised when Devin Nunes announced he was resigning from Congress to become CEO of Trump Media & Technology Group. Now, he tells me why.
And two years after he and House Intelligence Committee staff published the watershed Nunes memo exposing FBI surveillance abuses, he shares his thoughts on recent developments in the Durham probe.
Jan Jekielek: Devin Nunes, such a pleasure to have you back on American Thought Leaders.
Devin Nunes: It’s great to be back Jan; a whole new adventure now from last time you interviewed me.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, it really is. I want to make sure I have this exactly. You are the CEO of Trump Media & Technology Group, TMTG. So we’ve been hearing a lot about TRUTH Social, but that’s just one part of this whole enterprise that you’re beginning. Tell me about this. What is this?
Mr. Nunes: Well, our mission really is to, number one, get a social media site so that the American people and people around the globe have a free and open internet again, which is what we don’t have because of all the social media companies and things that they’ve done.
Then, we’re looking at other opportunities throughout the space where you have this cancel culture wokeism, so to speak, where there are business opportunities for the customers that we have where we can open this up. So I think the potential is limitless for the number of businesses that have succumbed to this woke culture where we will be providing technology that will allow people to share their views. Right?
I mean, it could be things like that you guys are very good at Epoch Times: content. There’s so many people who have great ideas, Hollywood ideas. They go to Hollywood, and if it’s not woke enough, they don’t have anybody to produce their movie, or their sitcom, or their comedy show, or their music.
I mean, we’re even seeing that now, right? You have now these musicians are pulling off their music because they don’t like what Joe Rogan says. I mean, we’ve really gone down this path towards, I think, where you have a society that’s really breaking apart. The elite social media companies, so-called tech tyrants, are really deciding what part of the internet’s going to be open and what’s not.
Mr. Jekielek: So you’re saying that potentially, you will actually have content production news even or something like this?
Mr. Nunes: Yes. I think what we want to look at is there’s so many people out there creating news that are doing a really good job. But a lot of us are in the internet ghetto, so a lot of people don’t get to see what Epoch Times is putting out because if you use the big media companies, the big tech companies, they can’t find the stories that you do or the videos that you have. So that’s really kind of the focus.
How do we help promote people where their voices have been silenced? There’s so many people out there that you know, that you interview all the time, their voices have been silenced.
Mr. Jekielek: So the first part obviously is the TRUTH Social. So what is TRUTH social exactly? Is it Twitter analog? Is it a Facebook analog? Is it something completely different?
Mr. Nunes: Well, the first step is, TRUTH Social is going to be unique. We’re having to build this; remember, we have to build this from scratch. You know? We can’t rely on any of the big tech companies because we can’t end up like so many of the startups that then were canceled. So we have a few business partners that we’re going to work with that we trust so that we have our own servers. We can’t be canceled by these big tech companies.
Then, essentially, it will be an interactive social media site, but we’ll be one that’s not going to steal your data. We’re not going to shove stuff into your feed based on some algorithm. We’re going to be in a spot where people will be comfortable. What I like to say is that we want to be a family-friendly site, right?
We don’t want any illegal activity occurring on the site. We want people to feel safe in their entirety that there’s not going to be illegal activity occurring on the site, that they’re not going to be canceled and put in some internet ghetto somewhere, that they’re going to be able to freely express their political views. Those are the issues that we’re really striving for. And like I said, building this from scratch, I hope people understand it’s not easy.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, and so family-friendly. You’re giving me the sense that you’re not going to have pornography, you’re going to censor pornography or overly sexualized things. Is that the idea?
Mr. Nunes: Yes, it’ll be like this. So number one is illegal activity. So there are federal laws, there’s state laws. I mean, that’s number one, that we want to make sure that activity; and there will be people, bad actors, trying to put that type of content onto our site in order to cause us to be taken down or canceled by people. Right? So any illegal activity, number one.
Number two, we want to look at to make sure that it’s just a place that people feel safe. Right? That people aren’t going to be on there where somebody’s just on there scraping their data and then turning around because you searched for a book of some kind, then all of a sudden you get sent five ads regarding that book. That’s happening to everybody. You know?
They go to a search engine, they search for a new car, and then they get hammered with car ads for the next two weeks. Those are the types of things we don’t; we’re not going to be using that data to push, to market to people like that.
Mr. Jekielek: So how will you be using it?
Mr. Nunes: Well, we’re not going to be using data, yes. We’re not going to be stealing people’s data. I mean, the one thing that we will want to have is we will want to make sure, and look. It’s whatever people want to give us.
For example, geolocation, I think is a key because we want to make sure that if you’re in a region and you want to find friends of yours that are in the same region, friends nearby type thing, those are the types of issues that if people want to allow that to happen, be able to find people in their area, that would be the type of data that would be in the best interest of the user if they want to give it to us; things that would help their experience, help them find people on the site.
Mr. Jekielek: So, roughly speaking, you’re basically saying that all of this data that people will give is going to be kept private? It’s not going to be sold because that’s the activity.
Mr. Nunes: Oh yes, absolutely. That’s what’s happening. I think people are sick of it and we’re not interested in that business model. So we’re not going to be taking people’s data and selling it to any of the big tech companies.
Mr. Jekielek: That’s what makes something, let’s say, Facebook, effective as a marketing tool because they can pinpoint exactly how to give you ads to exactly what it is that they figured out. You’re basically giving up that business opportunity here.
Mr. Nunes: Yes. We’re not interested in that business model. I mean, what we do want to make sure is that at some point advertisers that are in a particular region, that are also being canceled. There are some advertisers who can’t even advertise on these platforms, right?
So, the way things are going in this country, around the globe, if we’re considered non-woke, you have many of the major companies in this country wouldn’t even advertise with us. We’re not worried about that. What we’re worried about mostly would be to make sure that small businesses, local restaurants, things of that nature, have an ability, a place that they can ultimately advertise.
But advertising is something that we’re not really going to be working on right now. This is something that will happen in the future. Right now, we’re just focused on the user experience, getting people to the site, making sure we make the site work as quick and efficiently as possible so that people know that they’re there, they’re in a safe spot.
We’re not stealing their data. We’re not selling their data. Hopefully, we’ll be like the site that everybody can kind of go to. Then all the other sites that are out there that are non woke, we believe we will help all those, right?
So Epoch Times, for example, what a great opportunity you guys will have to be on our site. You know you’re not going to be ranked at the very bottom like… I can’t even find most of your stories quite frankly, even though you guys do great work. If I go and start to use the search engines to try to find the stories that you guys have been putting up or the videos that you’ve done, and the content that you guys continue to create at Epoch Times, good luck finding it. It’s pretty tough.
Mr. Jekielek: Yes, you have to… Well, Epoch Times app is just, I’ll plug us a little bit. If you’re having that problem, Epoch Times app is where you can go.
Mr. Nunes: Well, and you guys have had to. I think you’re a good example. You’ve had to create your own entirely different business model outside of the big tech companies because of the way that they’ve treated you, and the way that they’ve canceled you. You’re a prime example.
Epoch Times is a prime example of the types of companies that we believe are being stuck in the ghetto somewhere. But you do important work. You’re one of the few companies that actually goes out and tries to get to the truth of things. It’s sad that more Americans and people around on the globe don’t get to read the great work that you guys are doing. I mean, putting my old hat on, nobody holds China accountable more than you guys do.
Mr. Jekielek: You know? You’ve been talking about this for a while. I remember when we interviewed back in 2020, I think we published a whole piece which included this disinformation funnel that you describe in your book “Countdown To Socialism.”
So you’ve been thinking about media for, I mean, social media on the tech platforms for a while, while you were still a Congressman. I guess what I want to get at, I want to dig into that. Before we go there though, there’s a lot of people out there that have mentioned to me casually, they’re concerned Devin Nunes is no longer in Congress. I guess I want to understand. I know you’ve been talking about this whole realm for a long time, but it seems like a very serious decision.
Mr. Nunes: Yes. Well, you of all people, and your viewers and listeners know precisely why I left Congress. Most of the fake news media complex, it was ignoring what I had been saying for the last five years. I guess the bottom line is this—we’re in the middle of a propaganda war here, and you can’t win a war without basic communications architecture of any kind, whether it be a kinetic war or a propaganda war.
So much of the work that I had been working on and my colleagues had been working on was getting silenced. It’s gotten worse and worse. When I wrote the book, “Countdown To Socialism,” sadly it was much worse than I ever expected.
Because remember, that book was written even before the Hunter Biden laptop story; before President Trump was kicked off the internet; before hundreds of thousands of my followers were nuked from the various social media sites that I had an account on; before the Parler, which was a social media company, was essentially destroyed.
The list just goes on and on. And look, I think if you fast forward to just recently, look at what they’re trying to do now to people who aren’t even Republicans or conservatives, like a Joe Rogan type is being attacked. They’re going after the Canadian truckers as we speak. If you say anything about COVID, they’re putting up.
So what I wrote about back in 2020, as I saw this trend develop over several years, it went into warp speed. It went into warp speed. So I felt like, “What is the best use of my time and energy?” That is to essentially open the internet back up to the world. I believe that President Trump wants that.
President Trump didn’t want to have to go out and create a company. He just assumed that he’d be on all the social media sites. They banned him just like they banned, and President Trump has a big voice, right? I have a big voice; an ability to get out there. But just think of the millions of Americans that are out there who have nothing now, who have been kicked off of those sites.
So we’re trying to give everyone their voice back and opened this internet back up. That’s why I left Congress, because it really was the most important issue at the highest level that has to be solved for good governance to come back to this country. I think we’ve seen with the disinformation; you’ve seen just how far, what destruction a government can do by just over what’s happened in less than a year’s time, when we put woke radicals in charge of our government.
Mr. Jekielek: As we’re speaking here, briefly explain what actually happened to you in social media; how this evolved.
Mr. Nunes: Yes. We caught several of the companies effectively shadow banning, where I would post something and then it would be put to the bottom of a feed. So you were lucky if you could even find it. When you would search for my podcast, for example, on the sites, you couldn’t find it. We caught that in 2017.
I mean, this was all kind of the Russia hoax and the impeachment hoax, all during that time period when there was so much propaganda being used to destroy me, to destroy President Trump. We don’t have to get into the whole Russiagate. You guys have done a great job covering it.
But through the end of 2017, 2018, 2019, we realized this was happening. I started a podcast basically to get around the fake news media so that I could communicate directly with my supporters around the country.
Mr. Jekielek: And your constituents, frankly.
Mr. Nunes: That’s what I mean, my supporters and my constituents.
Mr. Jekielek: Yes.
Mr. Nunes: We created that podcast in order to basically, you know? So people could hear my voice directly. So if you subscribe to my podcast, you could hear directly from me. Then we went to video and we quickly noticed that we were being banned there. You couldn’t even find my podcast on the video. So we were doing an audio and a video portion of my podcast. Then that’s when we went out and found Rumble.
Mr. Jekielek: Okay.
Mr. Nunes: So I was on Rumble. I was on Parler. And I wasn’t using; at some point, I just quit posting on all the other sites. Then of course, most of those sites have been cut. Right? They’re either being censored or they’re being cut. You have millions and millions of Americans who are now either on different sites all over the place, different types of social media that are out there.
But we can’t even communicate with each other. Right? No matter what you want to talk about, you can’t even communicate with each other. That’s why when I talk about you can’t win a propaganda war without basic communications; well, that’s kind of the first step is just people who don’t want to be censored. We’re going to be that one stop, that one place that people can go to.
Mr. Jekielek: I guess I just want to understand. When you say propaganda war, do you feel like it’s… Propaganda implies manufactured information or something like this. Do you feel like there’s manufactured information one side going against manufactured information on the other side? What do you mean by propaganda war?
Mr. Nunes: Well, I think probably the best example of it is probably nobody has lived this more than me, except for maybe President Trump. I mean, it is nothing short of a propaganda war when you try to label people agents of a foreign power. So whether it be that somehow we’re under the control of Russia and Putin and all of that mess; I mean, this has been going on for years.
Now you’re seeing with what’s happening in Ukraine, just how ridiculous this whole thing was to take any Republican and say that somehow that Russia and China favored a Republican being in office was always preposterous. You’re seeing the effect of this now. Now it’s coming out that, “Oh, it wasn’t Trump or Devin Nunes that had something to do with Russia or China.”
Remember the Hunter Biden laptop story that came out right before the election? That was banned by all the social media sites. Nobody reported it. In fact, we had dozens and dozens of so-called foreign policy experts that came out and said—these are US foreign policy experts who came out on behalf of the Biden campaign and said, “Russian disinformation.” That’s propaganda. It’s wrong and it’s helped sway the election. It’s election interference.
You had hundreds of millions of dollars in not only direct dollars that were put into various places around the country to harvest ballots, through so-called nonprofit, but how do you even; and look at the value of when someone makes a post, or someone’s not on social media, or someone can ban any news story that sways an election. What kind of value is that worth?
You still have to this day, I guarantee you it’s been a while since I’ve seen a poll; but you still have millions and millions of Americans, probably well over 40%, that think that Republicans, Donald Trump had something to do with Russia, and it’s outrageous.
Mr. Jekielek: So this is you and TRUTH social equalizing the playing field?
Mr. Nunes: Yes. I think just trying to establish a place that we can open the internet back up and a place that everyone can go to as we move into the future. We’ll be looking at so many opportunities that are out there because every day that goes by there’s more, and more censorship across multiple platforms.
Whether it be Hollywood, news media, search engines, payment processing. These are all areas that I think that people could get canceled. Americans could get canceled if you don’t pay homage to the proper woke god. Those are the things that we’re going to fight against.
Mr. Jekielek: So I want to go back to this, creating the free ecosystem. To your point, I think you alerted me to the existence of Rumble, I think right around the time when we were interviewing back in 2020. I looked back and I saw that some of the earliest videos we put up were right around that time.
Mr. Nunes: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: That’s interesting because you were an early adopter, and I remember you wanted nothing to do with YouTube once you found Rumble. Now, they’re a partner. So how did that evolve? How did that come about?
Mr. Nunes: Well, what I continued to do is I have a very strict policy that anyone who is essentially just an operative of the hard left, I don’t deal with them. I just don’t. I don’t talk to them. I don’t do interviews with them. I don’t post on their sites. Essentially, I’m going to continue that policy.
But at the same time, you have to have some outlets that are out there trying to be open. Rumble is clearly one of the best ones. Of all the companies that have been out there, they’ve been able to stay up despite the attacks. They’re a video platform company. But in addition to that, they also have server infrastructure.
So we’re going to be partnering with them, not only for video, but also for their servers. We can use Rumble servers that we know are in a good location. They’re ours. They’re new. Some of these big tech companies can’t take us out. So that’s really the partnership; working with a strong company like this that has really emerged. You know?
I was the first guy to go over to Rumble, the first conservative. Since then, you’ve seen not only basically every conservative in this country move over to Rumble, but you now have seen even independents and liberals go to Rumble because they’ve been canceled. If you say any about COVID, they get canceled too.
So people are finding that Rumble is a great place to post your videos. Those are the types of partners that we’re looking for and will continue to try to work with. We want to own almost everything; as much as we can own. We want to own because we don’t want to be beholden to anyone. But where we have good strong companies with good capabilities, we want to partner with them. That’s what we’re doing with Rumble and a few others.
Mr. Jekielek: Earlier you mentioned that your policy, and I assume you’re speaking for yourself here as opposed to the company, is not to basically post in places or even communicate with places that you feel are set against you ideologically. But obviously, the company isn’t going to function that way. That’s just your personal take? Or what do you mean?
Mr. Nunes: Look, at the end of the day, me as the CEO, I’m not going to speak to fake news organizations. I’m not. The President, as the founder of this company, look. He’s free to speak to anybody he wants to speak with. Nobody’s going to tell him who he can talk to or not. But look, for the most part, we’re just not going to engage with people who we believe that are bad actors.
I mean, if there are any true independent journalists that are out there that have some basic questions, we’ll be glad to talk to them. But for the most part, I’m just not interested in playing into the propaganda war that they’re hoisting onto the American people; and sticking people into these, what I like to call, the internet ghetto, and feeding them disinformation.
Mr. Jekielek: I think I understand what you’re saying, but let’s say one of these media organizations, they want to have a handle on TRUTH social, and function, and put all their stuff up.
Mr. Nunes: Oh, no, no. It’s a good point. We’re open. So we want all. We want every company. We want liberals, moderates, independents, any company in America. We want them to have a handle on our site and we want them to participate. Then maybe they’ll learn what it’s like to be on an open platform unlike where they’re at today.
But look, we’re going to be first. We’re a home for anybody who’s been disenfranchised and been kicked off of these social media companies. I mean, that’s first and foremost; but we want anybody and everybody to come and be part of it.
Mr. Jekielek: The competition of ideas.
Mr. Nunes: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: There’s a lot of people out there that aren’t conservative that are looking for some sort of, let’s say, open site. I know because many are communicating with me directly. I think one of the concerns people do have, and this has been voiced to me, people are very sympathetic, by the way; it becomes this megaphone for President Trump as opposed to something that’s broadly, equally open to everybody.
Mr. Nunes: Yes, I don’t know that that’s really a concern. I mean, because we’re open to everyone. You know? It’ll be a social media site. Everybody can come to it. Typically, the people that get engaged early on these new social media companies, you know? I was one.
I was the first guy to go to Rumble. I basically broadcast it all over the country to my supporters. I have close to a million followers there. So I think the early adopters, the people that get on a platform like this early are going to have the most followers. But it’s not like, there’s not going to be any preferential treatment. The main thing will be, if someone’s following you and you post, your followers will actually see it, which is an amazing thing.
Because remember, these social media sites and these search engines have this amazing ability to bury or censor what people are saying. That’s not going to happen on this site. So it’s open to everyone and we hope everyone will use it.
We hope over time that we’ll make improvements to not only have good quality, but make it a place where people will spend a lot of time using our portal into the internet to find information, and find their family, and share information, share video, share pictures. That’s the type of atmosphere that we want to create for everyone.
Mr. Jekielek: I think everybody’s really suspicious right now of the intentions of any company. I mean, the ostensible valuation when your company goes public, it looks like it should have a pretty high valuation. So it’s going to come out. It’s going to be pretty sizable company, obviously not like Facebook or Google or something like that.
So people are just cynical and find it hard to believe that someone might really just try to have an equal playing field, especially when at the head of it is a very powerful, as you mentioned earlier, voice.
Mr. Nunes: If you look at this, the size and scope of these big tech companies, they’re bigger than historical empires throughout history. For us, with the support that we have and what we’re building, we’re just hope we can get what I call, a fortified beachhead against these companies that are going to be so massive. I mean, we just have to hopefully establish a safe place on the internet for future technologies to be developed. That’s what we’re striving to do.
Look. This is not as big of a voice as President Trump has. If we’re more successful than you and so many of the great journalists come onto our site; and if in millions of Americans, ultimately we’ll probably open up to other countries around the world. Even with all of that, the size of our company will be minuscule to what these big tech companies have, just to put it in perspective.
I mean, think about that. We just want to get a fortified beachhead to open this internet back up because we believe that we’re like that rising tide that lifts all the boats of everybody who’s been out there in that so-called internet ghetto, that all those people will be elevated. Even with all that, with enormous success, we’ll be a small beachhead compared to how large these empires really are. I mean, they’re empires, and they’re tyrannical, and they’re dangerous.
Well, there’s going to be so many of these companies, and the left, and nation states that aren’t going to want this company to succeed. So I think we go into this eyes wide open; but yes, the whole idea that we’re anything but a, you know? We’re probably the last best chance at this point to establish that beachhead, to give people their voice back.
Mr. Jekielek: I want to switch gears a little bit. Of course, we’ve been talking about propaganda, let’s say. You wrote something which has been called the Nunes memo, you and your team back in the day; it was vilified. We learned subsequently that all of it was true.
Subsequent to President Trump being replaced by President Biden in office, there’s been a lot of questions about what’s going to happen with this whole Russiagate hoax. You’ve always been someone that’s been bullish on attorney John Durham. It’s been very interesting. A lot of people weren’t bullish on Durham, but it seems like he keeps going.
Mr. Nunes: Yes, thank God. I mean, it really is the biggest scandal, political scandal in American history where you have the corruption of intelligence agencies that get involved in politics. They had to have known this. I mean, it was all the information that we found.
It’s one thing to find it, make the American public aware of it. But everybody has always asked the same question. “Well, why don’t you guys do anything about it?” Part of the reason why I’m now doing this role is I’m trying to do something about it to at least get good information out to people so that people actually have a place where they go to get the accurate information.
But Congress doesn’t have the ability to arrest people. So we made numerous criminal referrals. I’ve always had confidence that if you just look at Durham’s history; he has a long history of very ethical investigations. He’s a tough investigator. I think that’s what you’re seeing. But these laws, the laws that are on the books, it’s tough to bring these cases. It’s not simple. You have to build evidence before you prosecute.
I think, slowly, what you’re seeing now is Durham is methodically going through; getting the facts and bringing indictments. And look, every day that goes by, more and more information comes out. I mean, I think seeing this most recent finding that here, you had the Offices of Inspector General sitting on phones of an attorney who is directly involved is a little concerning.
So thank God that Durham is out there moving ahead, trying to do the work of the American people. The American people are depending Durham to hold people accountable.
This is a dark chapter of American history that has not been closed yet. People need to pay the price. If we’re going to have confidence in this country, and not only our intelligence agencies, but our law enforcement agencies in this country, people have to be brought to justice that helped push this hoax onto the American people.
Ultimately it not only slowed down a presidency with President Trump, the first multiple impeachments based on this crap, but also just look at how it swayed the election with so many people that were poisoned by this Russian nonsense. I mean, it’s a pretty big deal.
Mr. Jekielek: As we finish up here, I can’t help, but think, it might be tempting to you to if TRUTH Social succeeds, if Trump Media & Technology Group succeeds, you’re going to be in control of a powerful information dissemination apparatus, for lack of a better term. You’ll see things like this come up.
Won’t it be tempting to you to kind of preferentially promote things like these very important disclosures that I suspect many people even watching right now had no idea that Durham just filed a few days ago. This most recent disclosure, it’s only more insiders that know, but it’s actually very interesting and a very important investigation for the history of the country arguably. I guess that’s my thought. I mean, I might be tempted.
Mr. Nunes: Yes, look. I took this job, like I said, because it was time to go on offense. It was time to go on offense. In Congress, we played a lot of defense, and this was an opportunity to go on offense. Truly the mission is to open the internet back up so there’s not political censorship. We’re going to stay focused on that.
Like I said earlier, this is a big important fight, and it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to take a lot of work and it’s going to take people to be steadfast, and know that as we move forward, the road’s going to be rough because you’re going to have a lot of people trying to take this company down; that so many millions of Americans are relying on us to get that beachhead established. That’s why I left Congress to do this.
Mr. Jekielek: How do people get involved, that might be interested in checking it out?
Mr. Nunes: Yes, it’s real easy. I mean, just go to truthsocial.com and you can sign up. You can pre-order the app on the App Store. As we move forward and we’re ready to launch, and we increase the size of our beta test, hopefully by the end of the first quarter, we’ll be fully operational. That’s the goal.
Mr. Jekielek: So March 30th?
Mr. Nunes: That’s the end of the quarter. Yes. I mean, we’re beta testing now. So I mean, I have it on my phone right now and we’ll be growing that beta test. At some point, once we feel like we can make that shift to be fully operational where we can take people within the United States, that’ll be kind of step one. Then ultimately, we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to open up to other countries around the globe also. We just have to make sure that we can ensure the quality, ensure the safety, and ensure that we can actually handle all the users that would want to use our platform.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, Devin Nunes, it’s such a pleasure to have you on again.
Mr. Nunes: Thank you. Thanks, Jan.
Mr. Jekielek: We live in an age of censorship and disinformation. To be the first to get alerted to new American Thought Leaders episodes, you can sign up for our newsletter at theepochtimes.com/newsletter. That’s theepochtimes.com/newsletter. And you can just hit the check mark at American Thought Leaders.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
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