Former President Donald Trump quietly removed himself from the board of his budding social media venture shortly before it was hit with federal subpoenas "by both the Securities and Exchange Commission and a grand jury in Manhattan," documents obtained exclusively by The Sarasota Herald-Tribune have revealed.
On Thursday, the Florida newspaper reported that on June 8, Trump, the then-chairman of Trump Media and Technology Group, joined five other executives – "Kashyap Patel, Trump's former point man in the White House; Scott Glabe, a former assistant to Trump who was counsel for the media company; and Donald Trump, Jr." – in a mass exodus from the organization.
"The SEC served Trump Media and Technology Group with a subpoena on June 27th, according to a regulatory filing," the Herald-Tribune learned. "Trump's media company owns Truth Social, an app similar to Twitter. Trump was banned by Twitter for inflammatory remarks concerning the insurrection."
Correspondent Chris Anderson uncovered another subpoena issued by the Southern District of New York on July 1st, suggesting that a "potential criminal investigation is in progress." He explained that "the investigations appear to be related to a proposed merger between Trump's media company and a blank-check company called Digital World Acquisitions Corp., according to a recent regulatory filing."
What caught the attention of regulators, Anderson wrote, was that Digital World and Trump Media and Technology Group were engaged in "premature" discussions about fundraising for their merger, which is prohibited before a venture officially goes public.
The amount of money in play was not mere chump change, either.
Anderson pointed out that "the merger between the two companies could reportedly mean $1.3 billion in capital and a listing on the stock exchange for the new company, according to the New York Times." He added that Digital World's top brass received concurrent subpoenas.
"According to Digital World's filing, the grand jury subpoenas served on Trump's company were seeking a 'subset of the same or similar documents demanded in subpoenas to Digital World and its directors," Anderson found. "The SEC's subpoena, according to a filing, seeks 'documents relating to, among other things, Digital World and other potential counterparties for a business transaction involving TMTG.'"
Several unnamed TMTG personnel were also served, and while TMTG said that it "will continue cooperating fully with inquiries into our planned merger and will comply with subpoenas we've recently received, none of which were directed at the company's chairman or CEO," it never acknowledged Trump's departure. It did, however, disclose who some of its leaders are.
"Former California Congressman Devin Nunes is listed as the media company's CEO. A businessman named Phillip Juhan is the company's CFO," Anderson gleaned from the records. "They are now the only two board members listed, both using the same Sarasota office address."
The physical location of TMTG is relatively sketchy too.
"A visit to the office by the Herald-Tribune on June 27th revealed Trump's company name was not on the registry in the main lobby, nor was there any reference to the name at the office suite itself. There was no receptionist either, just a note to ring the doorbell for assistance," Anderson discovered. "The visit to the office by the Herald-Tribune took place on the same day the SEC served Trump's company with the subpoena."
The absence of Trump's name from the building's roster – as well as the opacity behind why TMTG chose Sarasota – only adds to the curiousness of the circumstances, Anderson noted.
"It is still not known why Trump selected Sarasota as home to his company, though it is close proximately to Rumble, the video media platform company used by Truth Social," Anderson wrote. "Rumble is located on Longboat Key, 11 miles from Trump Media's headquarters."
Reprinted with permission from Alternet.