Donald Trump had more on his agenda than golf this summer.
The former president held a number of private meetings on his New Jersey golf course with loyalists, from people speaking out against Covid mask and vaccine mandates to conspiracy theorists who continue to make the false claim that the 2020 elections are in favor of Joe Biden were manipulated.
Many of the meetings were held at Trump’s National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. CNBC found out about its existence by reviewing social media posts.
Earlier this year, Trump held several meetings with the Republican leadership at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Florida. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate National Republican Committee Chairman Rick Scott, and Republican National Committee leaders and financiers visited the former commander in chief.
Lawmakers who met with Trump in Bedminster this summer include Elise Stefanik, RN.Y.
Trump continues to consider running for the presidency again and continues to falsely claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
Several officials from both sides of the political aisle, including former Trump Attorney General William Barr, said there had been no widespread fraud in the 2020 election. Former Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a recent interview that the election “was not rigged. It was not stolen. Donald Trump lost the election.”
A Trump spokesman did not respond to an email asking for comment prior to publication.
In a video posted on Instagram in late June, Trump is seen speaking to a group of donors. Like the other videos and photos verified by CNBC, the social media post lists Trump’s New Jersey Golf Club as the location of the event.
After calling and thanking certain supporters by name, Trump goes back to the election and finds that it was successful despite his loss to Biden.
“It was really an incredible time. We had a great choice. We did better the second time than the first, “Trump told the small crowd, claiming that his lost re-election bid was better than his successful 2016 election campaign.” Yes! ” says one participant.
The video shows that one of the names the former president mentioned at the June meeting was Lewis Topper.
“Do you mind if I get you for a few minutes afterwards?” Trump tells the crowd as he recalls an obvious conversation he had just before the private meeting with Topper. “I said, ‘Lewis, if it matters we will,'” Trump said when explaining whether he would actually speak to Topper in private.
Data from the Center for Responsive Politics shows that a Lewis Topper runs a Florida-based fast food company and is also a long-time republican donor.
Topper didn’t respond to CNBC’s request for comment as to whether he was at the event. Federal Election Commission records show that he once listed a New York address and contributed to Trump’s campaign and an external super-PAC in support of the then-candidate during the 2016 election.
Records also show that Topper recently donated large amounts to the RNC, including a donation of $ 100,000 in 2018. Topper also donated over $ 500,000 last year to the American Liberty Fund, a super PAC that Spent over $ 1 million in the 2020 election, including just over $ 220,000 in supporting Trump, according to CRP data. The PAC also spent over $ 500,000 on Florida right-wing GOP congressional candidate Laura Loomer, who also lost her race.
A series of pictures posted to Twitter and Instagram on July 7 showed the former president meeting privately with those who promoted the idea that the election was stolen from Trump.
Conservative YouTube personality Austen Fletcher posted pictures of him, Trump and others sitting at a table on at least two of his social media accounts in early July. His Instagram post states that the meeting took place on the Bedminster golf course and each of the social media posts reads: “Diet Cokes with the big man”.
Fletcher, whose YouTube channel is titled Fleccas Talks, has been a fierce opponent of big tech companies and believes conservative voices are being censored like his own. The meeting took place on the same day that Trump announced a class action lawsuit against tech giants Facebook, Twitter and Google. Trump was previously blocked from Facebook and Twitter. Fletcher did not respond to social media messages asking for comments on the meeting with Trump.
Fletcher can be seen on stage with Trump and a few others in the pictures of the meeting. Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union who was also on the stage when the former president made his announcement, confirmed to CNBC that he was also attending the meeting, but declined to say what was discussed. Schlapp had previously announced that his organization would join Trump in the class action lawsuit against the technology companies. The ACU hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, at which Trump has appeared as a speaker.
A picture of the private meeting with Trump also shows lobbyist and former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, who was later seen on stage with Trump. Bondi is the chairman of the America First Policy Institute, which is run by a number of people with ties to the former president.
Both Fletcher and Schlapp have previously tried to question the election result.
Fletcher’s Instagram page features a January 4th post encouraging his more than 470,000 followers to participate in the upcoming post-election rallies that would later become known as the precursor to the deadly January 6th uprising on Capitol Hill. The attack on the Capitol took place while Congress was certifying the results of Biden’s victory over Trump, and has sparked Congressional investigations and hundreds of arrests.
Fletcher’s Instagram post highlighted three rallies held between January 5th and 6th, including the one with Trump outside the White House, where he urged his followers to march on the Capitol. Fletcher writes in his post, “Who Else Is Going to DC to STOP STEAL?”
In a video posted to Rumble on Jan. 8, Fletcher is seen interviewing various people marching on Capitol Hill. The first clip of the episode shows protesters cheering “Fight for Trump”.
In the first interview, Fletcher speaks to a Trump supporter who, for no reason, claims the election was fraudulent. The video later shows scenes of the Capitol being attacked and one of the last people interviewed says she hopes Trump “fights”.[s] like hell.”
This particular Fleccas Talks episode received over 100,000 views, the most any his channel on Rumble has ever seen.
Shortly after the election, Schlapp suggested having evidence that Nevada people voted dead, people from abroad illegally voted, and even voted for children. Trump and his allies lost all election lawsuits they filed in Silver State.
Later in July, Trump surprisingly attended a cocktail party for a group called Ladies for America First. It was also on his New Jersey golf course. Trump’s former White House social media director Dan Scavino is also pictured with attendees at the event.
Photos on Instagram show the rally’s itinerary, stating that it took place on July 28th and that one of the featured speakers was a local county council commissioner who attended the January 6th rally but not the riot that followed. The itinerary shows that the party also wanted to raise money for Love 146, a nonprofit fighting trafficking in human beings.
A YouTube video posted the day after the party showed that Trump’s appearance surprised the Ladies for America First. In front of a cheering crowd, Trump took on many of his usual targets, including the press, Democratic lawmakers, Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and what Trump says is rising crime in the Democratic-run cities.
Trump returned during his comments on the election, falsely claiming that he won after the crowd shouted “You won!”
“We have. We have won and we have won a lot,” he told the cheering crowd. “You saw where votes are printed on the wrong paper. You have ballot papers that are missing. You have more votes than in any state,” Trump later claimed, with no evidence at hand.
At the end of the clip, Trump gave one of his clearest indications yet that he was going to run for president when a woman said, “We need you back.” Trump replies: “You will be very happy.”
Days after the Ladies for America First event, Cawthorn posted a picture of him and others meeting with Trump on his Instagram page.
The post was dated August 2nd. Cawthorn is one of the most conservative members of the House of Representatives and has recently referred to people arrested after the January 6 riot as “political hostages”.
Cawthorn appeared to be teasing a Trump presidential candidacy on his social media page. The Congressman’s spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on what was specifically discussed at the meeting.
“Incredible time to discuss the future. Some important steps to plan a bright future for America. Phase one is election security and it is in the works, ”said Cawthorn in his Instagram post describing the meeting. “Phase two will begin after we take over the house and then the presidency in the upcoming elections.”
Cawthorn has been under scrutiny, including by members of his own party, for his recent remarks suggesting people could be harmed if lawmakers fail to listen to him and his constituents’ demands for electoral integrity.
“If our electoral systems continue to be tampered with and stolen, it will result in a location and bloodshed,” Cawthorn said at a Republican event.
Cawthorn previously blew up a district in North Carolina to require students to wear masks in school.
“The greatest threat to our children today does not come from Covid-19. It comes from bright liberal government officials like you who think they all know and are all wise, ”Cawthorn told district officials last month. He also said Biden’s Covid vaccine campaign could result in people’s guns being taken away by the federal government.
At the meeting with Trump, Cawthorn was accompanied by Rogan O’Handley, a lawyer who has more than 2 million followers on Instagram. O’Handley’s Instagram page has a few posts targeting Covid vaccine mandates, including those being implemented by companies across the country.
“States must start banning mandatory vaccines required by employers and schools,” said O’Handley in an Instagram post. “Your private medical conditions should remain PRIVATE!”
O’Handley didn’t respond to an Instagram message asking for comment on meeting Trump.