SEC expands probe into Donald Trump’s media company

In filings this week, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) announced it was expanding its investigation into former President Donald Trump’s deal struck last year to establish his Trump Media & Technology Group, the company behind its Truth Social network.

The company had gone public through a financial vehicle called Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC), which was in vogue for a while in 2021. The company had merged with Digital World Acquisition Corp., a public company.

“The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating communications between the blank check company, called Digital World Acquisition Corp., and Trump. It would be particularly interesting if the two parties negotiated before the DWAC became public, which would have been illegal,” Axios reported of the filing.

This is an SEC investigation and not a criminal investigation. “As previously disclosed in Digital World’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the period ending March 31, 2022 and other filings with the SEC, Digital World has received a Request for Document and a Subpoena from the SEC requesting various documents and information regarding, among other things, meetings of the board of directors of Digital World; communications with and evaluation of potential targets, including TMTG; communications relating to TMTG; agreements with and payments made to certain advisors; investors, including meetings and agreements with investors; the appointment of certain officers and directors of Digital World; policies and procedures relating to trading; and documentation sufficient to identify bank, telephone and email,” the folder says.

In other Truth Social news this week, the network reportedly banned users who referenced the January 6 survey. Per Variety, several users reported that they were kicked out of Truth Social for this reason, even as the company claims to pursue an ethos of free speech. Trump Media & Technology Group did not respond to Variety’s request for comment.

“To see a lot of people getting banned from Trump’s Truth Social for posting updates on the January 6 committee hearings,” said State Assemblyman staffer Max Burns. New York, on Twitter after his own banishment. “Apparently free speech has its limits even in Trumpland.”

The Verge reported a year ago that prior to the launch of Truth Social, Trump had been in negotiations to make Talk his social media home, according to a book by Michael Wolff. However, the talks later fell apart, after Trump demanded both 40% of the company’s revenue and a provision that Talk would “prohibit anyone speaking negatively about him”.

Parler would only have objected to this last provision. The network, after the January 6 attack, was banned from the Apple App Store for a while, but was later relaunched there.

Stephen Silver, technology editor for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who also contributes to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and connect today. Co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters

Cathy W. Howerton