The SEC and a separate private entity have launched “fact-finding inquiries,” according to a new disclosure.
In hindsight, I suppose it was inevitable that former President Donald Trump’s burgeoning media empire would land in the regulatory crosshairs before it had even fully gotten off the ground. This is, after all, a man who has elevated a crude procession of slash-and-burn grifts into a veritable art form, with little regard for pesky things like “business acumen” or “laws.” Why should his latest swing at post-presidential relevance be any different? Still, I’m sincerely impressed that the hastily assembled “Trump Media & Technology Group” has managed to land itself in potential legal jeopardy in under two months since launch. Bravo, Mr. Trump.
In an 8-K filing required by companies to notify shareholders of major developments, Digital World Acquisition Group — the publicly traded SPAC planning to merge with Trump’s TMTG to form the foundation of his aspiring media empire — disclosed Monday that it had “received certain preliminary, fact-finding inquiries from regulatory authorities, with which it is cooperating.” While the company went on to stress that the requests from the various investigatory bodies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the private Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, do not themselves suggest any illegality, the notification comes just weeks after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) specifically requested the SEC investigate Trump’s planned merger for any financial violations or crimes.
In her letter to SEC Chairman Gary Gensler, Warren noted that Digital World Acquisition Group seemed to “have committed securities violations by holding private and undisclosed discussions about the merger as early as May 2021, while omitting this information in U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings and other public statements.”
While Trump has as of yet not publicly commented on the investigations into his planned foray into tech titanhood, the former president’s bid to become the (more) conservative Jack Dorsey or Mark Zuckerberg is not only threatened by the potential that government regulators could uncover fiscal malfeasance in the structure of the merger between DWAG and TMTG, but also by the broader, more fundamental problem inherent in Trump’s plans: that his “TRUTH” social network is largely a rehash of existing media platforms — not only ones aimed at the general public, but a growing constellation of conservative-focused networks like the Nazi-riddled Gab and his own former political team’s pointedly underwhelming effort “GETTR.”
Whether or not the SEC finds any evidence of wrongdoing that could scuttle Trump’s planned expansion into the word of apps and streaming services is almost secondary to the fact that the merger fails to offer anything substantively new. It is, at its core, a safe-space duplication of existing platforms, which have an existing edge over Trump’s by not being full of MAGA lunatics intent of cannibalizing their own community to prove their ideological purity.
Even if the merger goes forward, and Trump’s social network manages to drag itself off the ground, it seems eminently plausible that it will, like so many of his other business ventures, make him a quick buck before collapsing into ignominy entirely. Not that that’ll matter to Trump, who has spent his whole life moving from one get-rich-quick scheme to another. For him, this is just the next in a long line of grifts whose content doesn’t matter, so long as the checks ultimately clear.