EXCLUSIVE: Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday told Fox News Digital that Facebook "needs us more than we need them," but confirmed that his campaign is working to set up a meeting to discuss his reinstatement to the platform with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg ahead of the 2024 election cycle.
Trump, who announced his 2024 presidential campaign in November, told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview that Facebook has "lost $700 billion since I was de-platformed."
"It has been considered a major business mistake for them, Twitter, and others," he said.
"If they took us back, it would help them greatly, and that's okay with me," Trump continued. "But they need us more than we need them."
He added: "We are talking to them, and we'll see how it all works out."
Trump was banned from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat after the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. The former president has since created his own social media company, Truth Social, which serves as a platform for his statements and announcements.
"Truth Social is through the roof," Trump told Fox News Digital on Wednesday.
As for Facebook, however, Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung told Fox News Digital it is a platform that campaign officials view as critical — specifically for the campaign's data operation, including advertising, fundraising and more — as the team works to energize its voters.
"Free speech is an essential part of democracy and President Trump must be allowed to speak directly to the American people so they can be informed about his vision as they cast their ballots," said Cheung. "We have seen how Big Tech has tried to silence President Trump and other conservatives, and continuing this abhorrent practice is un-American and undemocratic."
Cheung said that in 2016, Facebook was "a large part of the campaign’s data operation and bypassed traditional media outlets in order to galvanize President Trump’s voters."
He told Fox News that Facebook served as a major campaign outreach tool in 2016 and was also used for fundraising specifically with regard to small dollar donations. Cheung said Facebook serves as a critical "operational tool."
Cheung pointed to the 2016 campaign, citing the nearly 6 million different versions of ads Trump ran. He said Trump spent $44 million between June and November 2016 on Facebook efforts.
"Being back on the platform will be an important tool for the 2024 campaign to reach voters through advertising, grassroots mobilization and fundraising, like all other candidates are able to do," Cheung said.
The Trump campaign's general counsel formally requested a meeting with Meta executives to discuss the potential for his "prompt reinstatement to the platform." Fox News obtained the letter Trump campaign general counsel Scott Gast sent to Zuckerberg, Meta President for Global Affairs Nick Clegg and Meta Vice President of Global Public Policy Joel Kaplan. NBC first reported on the letter.
Gast said Meta’s decision to ban Trump after the Capitol riot "immediately drew widespread criticism from across the political spectrum at home and abroad."
"Facebook’s own Oversight Board raised concern about how the ban was implemented, advising the company to develop 'clear, necessary, and proportionate policies that promote public safety and respect freedom of expression,'" he wrote.
Gast was referring to Facebook’s Oversight Board decision in May 2021, which decided to uphold Trump’s ban, but said it was "not appropriate" for Facebook to impose the "indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension."
At the time, Facebook said it would reassess the matter in two years. Gast noted that two-year period lapsed on Jan. 7.
Clegg recently spoke at the Council of Foreign Relations, where he said that Meta believes that "any private company — and this is really regardless of one’s personal views about Donald Trump — should tread with great thoughtfulness when seeking to basically silence political voices."
"We agree," Gast wrote in the letter, citing Clegg.
Trump announced his 2024 presidential campaign in November, and Gast stressed that "the ban on President Trump’s account on Facebook has dramatically distorted and inhibited the public discourse."
"We also believe that a continued ban would basically constitute, in the words of Mr. Clegg, a deliberate effort by a private company to silence Mr. Trump’s political voice," Gast wrote. "Moreover, every day that President Trump’s political voice remains silenced furthers an inappropriate interference in the American political and election process."
Gast stressed that Meta "should be encouraging a full and robust dialogue, not silencing presidential candidates."
"We therefore write to request a meeting to discuss President Trump’s prompt reinstatement to the platform," Gast wrote.
The Trump campaign cc'ed Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla.; House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; and House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky.
House Republicans have vowed to investigate Big Tech decisions, specifically those that suppress conservative viewpoints.
"We will announce a decision in the coming weeks in line with the process we laid out," a Facebook spokesperson said.